Advocating for the Accused with Mental Illness
Mental illness affects millions Americans and is often undiagnosed, untreated, and misunderstood.
Many people have psychiatric or psychological conditions that contribute to them coming to the attention of law enforcement or into the criminal justice system. As a result, jails and prisons are often the largest mental health providers in their region. That does not, however, mean that they are the best place for people to receive treatment or that everyone there should be.
While most judges, jurors and lawyers are likely aware of the relationship between drug and alcohol addiction and crime, many are unaware that drug and alcohol abuse may be a symptom of other problems or conditions that also need attention.
Without proper diagnosis, treatment, and advocacy, an individual suffering from mental illness may not have their needs appropriately addressed in any investigation or court proceeding. And, they may end up in a similar situation in the future.
Mental health traditionally intersects with criminal law in three ways: competency to stand trial, insanity, or diminished capacity that may negate guilt, and mitigation.
Determinations of competency and insanity/diminished capacity are subject to rigorous and technical procedures in state and federal court and may be determined by a judge or a jury. People who are incompetent to stand trial may have their competency restored. People may be found not guilty by reason of insanity or that they could not form the specific intent to commit a crime.
Where questions of competency or insanity do not arise, proper presentation of mental health issues may help in obtaining leniency where the crime and the disorder are connected. Judges and jurors often need to be educated about both the science and how appropriate treatment may assist the accused and protect the public in the future. Effective advocacy comes from knowledge and experience.
The attorneys at Hilder & Associates regularly work with mental health professionals, including forensic psychologists and psychiatrists, when appropriate, to assist clients under investigation, being prosecuted, or who have already been convicted. The proper identification and collection of records and witnesses depends upon a familiarity with the landscape of mental health that comes from experience. Our attorneys not only have the ability to present expert witnesses and evidence, but the knowledge to confront and cross-examine government experts who take a different position about a client’s mental health or its relevance to the case.
In our experience, many different mental illnesses have affected our clients in ways relevant to their case, including, but not limited to Bipolar Disorder, Posttraumatic Spectrum Disorder (PTSD) Autism Spectrum Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia, Anxiety & Panic Disorders.
Our experiences allows us to investigate cases and work with the right experts to make sure our clients get the care and attention they deserve.
Contact Hilder & Associates, P.C.
To reach our offices in Houston to discuss your concerns, contact us by calling 713-234-1416 or toll-free at 888-659-8742. We have a worldwide clientele, and we represent clients throughout the United States.