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´╗┐Mental Health Courts and Justice for the Mentally Ill


Also known as MHC, mental health courts are special courts that take into consideration the special needs mental patients have when facing litigation. These mental health courts are actually pretty rare and are staffed by a designated judge, public defenders and prosecutors who have knowledge and backgrounds dealing with mental health cases, a certified mental health professional and other staff like probation officers who are armed with the same mental health knowledge.

These mental health courts were made to do a few key things aside from protecting the public from offenders that have a history of mental illnesses that may cause them to have a propensity to commit crimes. The other goals that mental health courts have include the possibility of reducing the times a mentally ill offender goes to a regular jail and the possibility of getting them the kind of help they need from mental health professionals and services within the community.

The offenses a mentally ill criminal offender commits can be any of a number of possible offenses except for DUI or Driving Under the Influence or DWI, Driving While Intoxicated. The person being charged with these cases that need to be tried in these mental health courts may be someone who committed an infraction for the first time or someone who has been tried for the same or a different case before. The kinds of mental illnesses that can be considered as possible cases for these mental health courts can also be any of a number of mental ailments like dementia, brain injuries and other such illnesses or problems.

Defendants who are candidates for MHC or mental health court often get assessed by the staff first to ascertain that they are indeed suffering from some form of mental illness before they are turned over to the mental health court system for possible trial. The information that is needed to further process the case being brought against the defendant is then handed over to the staff of the mental health court for further assessment. This means that any past records of crimes, mental health history and treatments undertaken as well as family history is given to the staff for them to further ascertain the extent of the defendant's mental illness.

Should the case remain unresolved for a lengthier period of time than anticipated, the defendant may be turned over to his family with compliance for certain mental health services to be administered and strictly followed until the next court date or hearing. If a defendant is without a place to go, he will be remanded to a shelter with the same kind of mental health services that he or she will need.

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