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Who is eligible for Mental Health Diversion in California?

Mental Health Diversion - Penal Code Section 1001.36

In California, the Mental Health Diversion program under Penal Code Section 1001.36 allows certain individuals accused of crimes to receive mental health treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The eligibility for mental health diversion is based on several factors, including the nature of the crime and the defendant’s mental health condition. Here are the key aspects of eligibility:

  • Presence of a Mental Disorder: The defendant must suffer from a qualifying mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or other conditions that do not include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or pedophilia.

  • Link Between Mental Health Disorder and the Charged Offense: There must be a strong link between the defendant’s mental health condition and the criminal behavior.

  • Mental Health Expert: A qualified mental health expert must give a diagnosis and an opinion that the defendant would respond positively to mental health treatment.

  • Suitability for Treatment: The court must be convinced that the defendant would respond positively to mental health treatment.

  • Consent to Diversion: Defendants must agree to the diversion and waive their right to a speedy trial.

  • Public Safety: The court must be satisfied that the defendant will not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety.

  • Type of Crime: Most misdemeanors and many non-violent felonies are eligible for mental health diversion. However, certain serious offenses are generally excluded, such as murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, and nearly all sex crimes.

  • Duration of Diversion: The maximum duration for the diversion program is two years for felonies. For misdemeanors, the maximum is one year.

  • Successful Completion: Defendants who successfully complete the court-ordered mental health treatment program can have their criminal charges dismissed and their case records sealed, enabling defendants to avoid a conviction.

Finding the Right Mental Health Diversion Lawyer

Navigating the Mental Health Diversion process can be complex and overwhelming. At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, we understand the intricacies of this program and are committed to providing expert legal representation to those eligible for Diversion. Finding the right lawyer makes all the difference. It will determine whether you are granted Diversion or face a felony conviction with possible county jail or state prison time. If you or someone you know is facing charges and believe you may qualify for Mental Health Diversion, contact us at (213) 481-6811 for guidance and support in navigating this important legal option.

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