What if a person charged with a crime has a mental health problem?

People often want to know if a person with a verified mental health condition will be treated like anyone else arrested for a crime. Generally, they should not. If they have a diagnosed DSM Axis 1 or 2 condition (or they are diagnosed after arrest) they may be eligible to enter Mental Health Court and avoid standard penalties associated with the typical criminal justice system. These conditions can include Major Depressive Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder or Schizoaffective Disorder. A person may be eligible for this program if their (generally non-violent) criminal behavior occurred because of their mental health condition and treatment can assist in improving their behavior.  If they do not qualify for the Mental Health program, it is still possible for your attorney to raise the condition as mitigation in your case. Mr. Cavanaugh has experience as a prosecutor in Mental Health Court in Naples, Collier County and created a Mental Health Diversion Program in Vermont. People should not be locked up simply because they are mentally ill. If you or a family member or friend has been arrested for a crime but are suffering from a mental health condition, you should seek the counsel of an experienced attorney.


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