More people today than ever before are aware that they’re struggling with a mental health issue. But of course, just as many people, if not more, are unsure that they’re dealing with a serious health concern.
Over the past 50+ years, biology, psychology and sociology have come a long way with regard to mental health issues. Unfortunately, the law has not kept up, which has resulted in a variety of issues within the criminal justice system.
Even after so much time and attention being spent on mental health issues, there are still outdated laws and standards, such as the McNaughten Rule, which dates back to the 1840s.
Mental health and criminal charges
Even though there are still instances of outdated thinking with respect to mental health issues and criminal justice, this is no longer the case across the board.
The system is now familiar with all types of mental conditions, including but not limited to:
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Oppositional defiant disorder
All of these conditions, among others, can affect how a person acts in a particular situation. For example, if an individual has bi-polar disorder they may “act out of character” and commit a crime. As a result, they face serious criminal charges and far-reaching consequences.
If you’re charged with a crime and have a mental health issue, it’s important that you know your legal rights and how to use your condition to your advantage. There are specific ways to present mental health evidence to prosecutors, the jury and the judge.
With the right approach, you’ll feel better about your ability to move through the court system with confidence. Through the use of mitigation, both in misdemeanor and felony cases, you can fight for and hopefully secure a reduced sentence. This can be the difference between serious penalties, such as prison time, and something less aggressive, such as probation.
Don’t think about mental health issues and criminal justice in the same manner as you did in the past. Things are changing for the better, and this bodes well for you should you have a mental health issue and/or face criminal charges.