How does the justice system view mental health issues?
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How does the justice system view mental health issues?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

If you grapple with mental health concerns, you are in good company. As many as one in five adults in America suffer with some form of mental health issue, ranging from depression to anxiety to bipolar disorder and much more.

Societal and scientific understanding of mental health issues has improved greatly in the last fifty years. Unfortunately, the justice system has not made the necessary changes to keep up with it, resulting in some laws falling decades behind.

The impact of mental health on crimes

Medline Plus discusses the numerous and well-documented types of mental health issues that may impact a person’s criminal record. The system of criminal justice recognizes the impact of various issues like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, oppositional defiant disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The system also understands how these issues interact with the mental clarity and decision-making abilities of the afflicted individual. For example, if a person on medication for schizophrenia does not take that medicine, they may begin to hallucinate or suffer from paranoid delusions. This could lead to them committing a crime they would not have committed in a normal state of mind.

Reduced sentences based on mental health

It is possible to seek reduced sentences when dealing with a crime committed under the potential influence of a mental health disorder. This can include a reduction of jail time, or the reduction of a sentence from jail time to probation or time served. Of course, this depends on the severity of the crime and the mental illness in question. If you wish to know more about your possible options, consider contacting legal help to learn more.