New Mental Health Diversion in CA Criminal Cases

AB 1810, passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown this past summer and codified as Penal Code section 1001.36(link is external), is among California’s raft of recent criminal justice reforms. The law provides for pretrial diversion of individuals with specific DSM-V diagnoses if the defendant agrees to engage in a mental health treatment program targeting his or her specific treatment needs, and if the Court is satisfied that other conditions are met. Unsurprisingly, the law itself has been met with both optimism and a healthy dose of skepticism(link is external).
Ultimately, the law represents something of an experiment to attempt to address a long-existing crisis in the criminal justice system: the fact that incarceration paired with the badge of a criminal conviction and patchwork services offered by overburdened and underfunded Probation Departments and County Mental Health Departments has been shown to be the wrong method of handling cases involving severely mentally ill criminal defendants. If you or someone close to you suffers from one of the mental disorders listed in section 1001.36(b)(1) and has been charged with a crime, consider consulting with one of Janssen Malloy LLP’s experienced criminal attorneys. We have existing relationships with qualified mental health experts and can assist in evaluating whether the case would be a good candidate for this relatively new diversion program and, if it is, presenting this outcome as the best one to the District Attorney and Court.