Mental Health

St. Petersburg Lawyers Representing Criminal Defendants

An unfortunate reality of the criminal justice system is that a large percentage of people charged with crimes suffer from some sort of mental health issue. For years, our national and state governments have poured money and resources into the criminal justice system to get “tough on crime” while mostly neglecting the country’s growing mental health problems. The results have been predictably negative. More and more people with mental health issues have ended up stuck in a criminal justice system that is not equipped to help them or deal with their specialized needs.

Luckily, in recent years and after public outcry for criminal justice reform, mental health treatment and rehabilitation has become more of a focus in the criminal justice system. Mental health courts and mental health diversion programs have popped up throughout Florida and have had success diverting people suffering from mental health issues out of the criminal system. If you have been charged with a crime and suffer from a mental health related issue, you should contact a compassionate St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney immediately to learn about the options available to you.

Competency to Proceed

One of the primary legal questions that arises when serious mental or physical health issues are involved is competency to stand trial. A person who is found not competent to proceed to trial cannot be prosecuted or sentenced for a crime. Such a person must usually also be released from custody in order to obtain court ordered competency restoration treatment. After a period of time, usually five years, if a defendant’s competency cannot be restored, the law requires that the case be dismissed.

In determining someone’s competency to proceed, the court must account for several factors. First, the court must request that a qualified psychologist evaluate the defendant. The expert will report on the defendant’s capacity to understand the charges he or she is facing, to understand the possible penalties that could be handed down upon a conviction, and to understand the nature of the legal process and the role of the courtroom personnel. The court must also consider the defendant’s ability to adequately disclose relevant facts to his or her attorney, to behave properly in the courtroom, and to testify in his or her own defense. A skilled and experienced St. Petersburg Criminal Defense lawyer will be able to determine if you might qualify for this type of evaluation.

Mental Health Court & Diversion

Another new development in our court system is the Mental Health Court. Mental health courts were created with the intention of providing treatment to offenders who’s crimes are related to their mental health issues. The government of Florida has realized the jails are ill suited to care for and treat those with mental problems and that creating a mental health treatment program would help to reduce repeat offenses and encourage people in need to get treatment.

The prosecutor’s offices throughout the state have also begun to instituted mental health diversion programs. People charged with criminal offenses related to mental illness might qualify for jail diversion programs if they agree to attend treatment for the illnesses they suffer from. In Pinellas county, the Jail Diversion program enjoys support from both the State Attorney’s office and the Sherriff and has served to increase mental health treatment, reduce recidivism, and save enormous amounts of money formerly spent on housing mentally ill defendants in jails. This new trend of decriminalizing mental illness is a positive one, and if you think that your mental illness contributed to you being charged with a crime, you should contact a dedicated St. Petersburg Criminal Defense lawyer right away to discuss a plan of action.

Speak to the Lawers at Hanlon Law

The lawyers at Hanlon Law have years of experience dealing with clients who suffer from mental health problems. We take a compassionate approach and advocate strongly for these clients who should not face criminal charges as a result of mental illness that they cannot control. Call us today at 727-897-5413.

Client Reviews
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As a practicing attorney, I was shocked to hear that a family member of mine was alleged to have committed a sex crime. Knowing full well the consequences this type of allegation can have on anyone and their future, I immediately reached out to William Hanlon for help. I had every confidence that Mr. Hanlon had the knowledge, expertise, and experience to handle this problem. Approximately 4 weeks from an initial conference with Mr. Hanlon, we received a call with the news that a letter of release was being issued and the case was being dropped. Now my family member can finally exhale, take a deep breath, and go on with his life. Thank you, William! Jerry
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Was on the ball. Remembered names, events, places, situations. Never need to re explain the situation. Keeps in touch through out the entire experience and keeps you feeling safe, comforted and protected. Fights hard. Worth every single penny. Would never settle for anything less than Will. Carrie
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I was facing a charge that if convicted would carry two years in prison minimally. Not only was he empathetic and listening to what I had to say but he arranged with the prosecutor for my charges not to be filed under terms of a pre trial investigation. Would highly recommend. Alec
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I am very happy for what he did for me. Always there when I needed him. Explained everything well. He Fights for his clients. He got me what I needed. Hes an excellent lawyer. Mutaz
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Mr. Hanlon did what no other lawyer could do. Not only did he turn my criminal history into a thing of the past so I could move on, he was a loyal associate. No matter how bad the situation is, he has miraculously cleared me on every charge since he became my lawyer 5 years ago. I have the best lawyer that the legal system has to offer. I have had other really good lawyers try to get my business, but I know that no one can do a better job than William Hanlon. Jesse