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The Stigma Around The ‘Mental Illness’ Defense: Why California’s Criminal Justice System Needs It

Okabe & Haushalter Jul 14, 2018 Criminal Defense

In California and elsewhere in the United States, there is a stigma that whenever a person charged with a crime mounts the “mental illness” criminal defense, he or she is just trying to escape liability. And while it is true that many individuals charged with crimes make up some ridiculous mental illnesses in an attempt to escape severe punishment for their crimes, you might be surprised how many people are actually mentally ill and are not able to distinguish between good and evil.

Here at the Okabe & Haushalter law firm, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney says that he has seen numerous cases in which the state justice system failed to address the underlying basis for crimes – the mental illness – and only punished the mentally ill person who committed a crime, further aggravating their mental problems. The criminal justice system is not doing any good to other people.

Why the mental illness defense is so important for our criminal justice system

If you keep punishing a mentally ill person when he or she has little to no control over his/her behavior and actions, that person will be released from jail or prison only to commit more crimes. Instead, our society would be better off if our criminal justice systems allowed competent medical professionals to provide mental health treatments to prevent crimes.

Believe it or not, the vast majority of mentally ill persons who have served a prison sentence commit more crimes upon their release. That is because a person who suffers from a mental illness cannot be rehabilitated by incarceration. Those who commit minor crimes are released within months or years, only to commit more crimes. This time, however, these crimes could be more serious, and more people could get hurt.

“If your loved one is mentally ill and he or she has committed a crime, you cannot allow the criminal justice system to lock him/her up,” says our experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles. “If there is a way to prove that your loved one has mental problems, the best thing you can do for him/her and our society is to hire a criminal defense lawyer and exhaust all legal options to successfully use the insanity defense.”

When the defendant is not mentally competent to stand trial

Another issue that must be addressed is that persons who are accused of crimes and are suffering from a mental illness are not mentally competent to stand trial or take a plea.

You may be able to suspend the proceedings against your loved one who is being accused of a crime in California if your defense attorney successfully argues that the defendant is mentally incompetent. California’s criminal justice system does not permit the prosecutor to proceed with a criminal charge against a person who is deemed mentally incompetent.

After your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney argues that the defendant is mentally incompetent, the prosecutor will order an examination by a mental health professional. If the medical professional confirms that the defendant is mentally ill, the prosecutor is required to submit him or her to psychiatric treatment.

More often than not, that treatment is funded by a state mental hospital or other state facilities. The criminal proceeding may then resume when the defendant has completed his/her psychiatric treatment, if ever.

However, many lawyers have noticed that using the mental illness defense in California courts has become more difficult than ever before. That is why it is highly advised that you consult with a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles before attempting to mount the insanity defense. Contact the Okabe & Haushalter law firm to get a free consultation about your case. Call at 310-430-7799 or complete this contact form today.