In today's episode, Dr. Vienna overviews mental health diversion evaluations. These were born out of SB 215 and specifically, PC 1001.36. Mental health diversion is a pretrial program in California that diverts individuals from the criminal justice system into mental health treatment, in lieu facing a criminal trial or conviction. This is an alternative created for individuals where mental health played a significant part in their alleged crime.
California Penal Code 1001.36 Mental Health Diversion (PC 1001.36 PC) states that the court may grant pretrial diversion, for a period no longer that 2 years, to a defendant if they meet the following criteria:
1. The individual being charged suffers from a mental health disorder.
2. The mental health disorder must have played a significant role in the crime for which the individual is charged with.
3. A qualified mental health professional must evaluate and conclude that the individual being charged will benefit from seeking mental health treatment.
4. The individual must agree to participate in the mental health diversion program and waive their right to a speedy trial. During the mental health diversion program, the trial process is put on hold until the individual completes the mental health treatment program (attorney discusses this with their client).
5. The individual being charged agrees to comply with all requirements of the mental health treatment program.
6. The court determines that the individual will not pose “an unreasonable risk” to public safety. This will be determined by the judge after reviewing opinions of medical experts, mental health professionals, attorneys involved with the case, medical records and other factors.