criminal defense services

Mental Health Criminal Defense

Mental health can have a huge impact on your case. Being open about your mental health issues with your attorney can help them to use your unique circumstances to help you win your case.
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How is Mental Health Used in Criminal Trials?

Insanity is probably the most known mental health related defense for criminal cases, but mental health can be used in other ways as a defense to your criminal charges.

For example, a claim of self defense asks the jury to see the situation from your point of view. Someone with severe PTSD is going to react differently in a situation that involves self defense than someone who has not had a similar traumatic experience.

Also, there are moments in the arrest process and court proceedings where you receive written advisements and waivers of your rights. A learning disability or developmental issue can have a huge impact on whether or not you understand your rights and the impact of waiving them.

Speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your mental health can help you create the best defense to your criminal charges.

What does "competency" mean?

Competency is a legal term for being able to participate in the court process.

In Colorado, being incompetent means that a person has a mental disease or defect which causes them to not be able to understand the court proceedings or prevents them from communicating with their lawyer and aiding their lawyer in defending their case.

If competency is raised in your case, all the proceedings will stop until the question of whether or not you are competent to go to trial is answered.
Laurie Larson

What does it mean to plead insanity?

Insanity means that you have a disease or defect of the mind at the time you commit a crime and that disease or defect makes it impossible for you to distinguish right from wrong. Or, it can prevent you from forming the intent for the crime like doing something knowingly or deliberately.

Sometimes you go to trial on an insanity plea, but other times it's an agreement by the party or a stipulation to insanity.

If you believe that this is a possible defense in your case, contact an attorney to help you navigate the process.
Common questions about mental health criminal defense

Your questions, answered.

What mental health information can help my case?
Records of mental illness, developmental issues or trauma can be shared with the prosecution to mitigate your case and get you a reduced or deferred sentence.

You can also use mental health information at trial either through a mental condition defense or by pleading insanity. Mental health information, especially treatment information and medical records, are integral to the sentencing process.
What is an insanity defense?
Insanity means that you have a disease or defect of the mind at the time you commit a crime and that disease or defect makes it impossible for you to distinguish right from wrong. Or, it can prevent you from forming the intent for the crime like doing something knowingly or deliberately. Insanity cannot come from intoxication from drugs or alcohol. It has to be a condition that grossly impairs a person's perception of reality.
What happens when you plead insanity?
Insanity, or plead not guilty by reason of insanity, is a plea the results in a finding of not guilty. However, the defendant is taken to the state hospital instead of released after trial. This process is called civil commitment and can last indefinitely until the individual is believed to be safe to return to the community.
How do I know if I am competent to stand trial?
Competency is a low bar, meaning that a person can be suffering from mental health issues and still be found competent to proceed. Also, it's important to know that all parties in a case can raise competency. The judge, the district attorney and the defense attorney. If competency is raised in your case, all the proceedings will stop until the question of whether or not you are competent to go to trial is answered.
insights & opinions

Explore our blog for our team’s thoughts on the intersection of mental health and criminal defense.

Are you or a loved one facing criminal charges? Talk to someone who can help. Schedule a consultation with us today.