Mental Health Concerns within the Criminal Justice Arena

Often when charged with an offense, if it did occur, it was the partial or complete result of an underlying mental impairment or psychological issue. Whether it amounts to a complete defense within the law, or, rather as a mitigating circumstance, it is important to recognize the possibility. Once recognized, appropriate evaluations can be obtained through mental health experts such as forensic and clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. This is an area that should be examined by counsel at the outset of the case. Appropriate assessment can help make the focus of the defense more effective and therefore the outcome of the case more palatable.

In an initial interview, effort must be made to ascertain if the client has any type of mental health history. If so, records need to be obtained and input sought from doctors familiar with the client. If there has been no actual diagnosis in the past, but, family or friends relay instances that would support such a finding, then perhaps a current assessment is necessary.

Sometimes a criminal charge, if it is not too serious, presents the tip of the iceberg and by getting an appropriate assessment, the client can finally address a lingering problem he either did not know he had, or, for whatever reason was not able to adequately address in the past. By doing so, he will likely create more favorable options for the course of his case, and, more importantly, he will also personally benefit. A proper diagnosis and treatment might be the start of a healthier, safer and more peaceful future.

In any case, this factor cannot be ignored. I have worked with hundreds of clients whose cases have been concluded much more effectively because the client or his family was forthcoming with such information and it was adequately addressed. Some were military veterans with post traumatic stress syndrome, others were victims of abuse. Regardless of why, a person with an affliction has already suffered severely and is in need of help, not simply punishment. If I can help you or your loved one and this is an area we need to discuss, please call to schedule an appointment.