Reforms to the criminal justice system are occurring at a frantic pace in California, as the legislature looks to solve problems with the most heavily populated prison system in the country. Most recently, Gov. Brown signed Assembly Bill 1810 into law, a groundbreaking new bill that allows for individuals with mental health disorders to be excepted from standard criminal punishment procedures. The law establishes a pathway for defendants with proven disorders to be treated and have their cases dismissed rather than be sent to state prison where their conditions will only worsen. Programs such as these, also known as “diversion,” have only previously been available to individuals charged with drug or other substance abuse related crimes.
This new law is a bold move by the state assembly in an attempt to get to the root of the over-incarceration issue in California and help individuals with mental health disorders to receive treatment rather than unjust punishment.
While critics of the law call it “dangerous,” what they fail to mention is the procedure required to have these individuals excepted. A presentation from a skilled attorney combined with expert testimony from doctors and other mental health professional is presented to the court. It is only then that a foundational judicial determination is made to treat a criminal defendant under this new law.
Contact our office for further information about AB 1810 to see if this law can apply to you or your loved one.