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Relief For Families Of Mentally Ill Criminal Offenders May Be Found Through Laura’s Law

Okabe & Haushalter Sep 20, 2018 Criminal Defense

In 2002, legislation known as Laura’s Law was passed which permits a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to petition the court on your behalf to order certain individuals to obtain mandatory outpatient mental health treatment. Mostly used for severely mentally ill adults who have a history of acts of violence towards themselves or others despite previous treatment in a mental health unit of a correctional facility, this law allows the county’s mental health department to request treatment for the individual.

The individual’s parent, spouse, sibling, or another person with whom they reside request that the mental health department files for this petition. It can also be requested by a hospital, treatment center, or other care agency treating the mentally ill person, or by a parole or probation officer. However, the court must consider specific due process criteria before it orders someone into treatment.

How the Law Works

This law can provide relief to families of mentally ill children or siblings who seem to be caught in a never-ending cycle in the criminal justice system. Individual counties are left to implement the statute which has been adopted in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, with Orange County being the first to adopt the legislature.

Unlike a 5150 hold which commits a person to a psychiatric facility for assessment and treatment, Laura’s Law instead requires them to receive outpatient treatment until a time when they are deemed well enough to keep up with treatments on their own. The original 5150 hold releases an individual from treatment whether or not they have shown any improvement during the mandatory treatment, but with Laura’s Law, a person must be visibly improved.

Law’s similar to Laura’s Law across the United States have been shown to be incredibly effective. In California, Nevada county showed a significant decrease in homelessness and incarceration amongst the mentally ill after Laura’s Law came into place.

How the Law Helps Families

Laura’s Law works to get mandatory treatment for mentally ill individuals who suffer from a lack of awareness about their condition. Many people who have been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder or schizophrenia will refuse to take their medication because they believe there is nothing wrong with them.

Parents at their wit’s end often come to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney because their adult child is being arrested and jailed on a continuous basis. While some offenses are petty, others can be as serious as murder.

Laura’s Law offers treatment, not punishment. While only available to persons who fit its specific criteria, it still helps provide an alternative to incarceration which does nothing for their illness and actions.

If your loved one suffers from mental illness and you’re tired of them ending up in the criminal justice system, it’s time to talk to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter. We’ll walk you through Laura’s Law and help you determine your legal options. Call us at 310-430-7799 today.