Mental Health Issues That May Impact a Criminal Case

Posted on: 23 January 2019

As soon as you've been charged criminally, you need to seek legal counsel and begin discussing the details of your case. Although some criminal cases are black and white, others are in the gray area—meaning that there may be some room for interpretation when it comes to your responsibility for the alleged crime. One defense that might be applicable to your case is that you were suffering from mental health issues that prevented you from knowing what you were doing. This isn't a claim that your criminal attorney can simply make. Here are some issues that should be present to help your case.

A Diagnosed Mental Health Condition

You can't simply claim that you have a mental illness and blame it for whatever criminal acts you're alleged to have committed. For this type of defense to work, you need to have a condition that has been diagnosed by a medical professional. This usually means that your attorney will need to meet with your doctor and obtain official medical records that document the diagnosis of this condition, as well as perhaps some notes on how it can manifest itself—for example, a loss of your ability to evaluate right versus wrong, which may be applicable in your case.

Inability to Get Treatment

The loved ones of people who have mental illnesses are sometimes responsible for ensuring that the individuals in question get the right treatment. For example, a patient may need to take certain medication daily, and he or she and the family members should be overseeing that this is happening. In your case, it may be possible that you didn't get your medication, and this is what precipitated your actions that led to the incident in question. Family members will need to testify that you were off your medication, perhaps because the family's financial struggles prevented you from getting a new prescription.

Past Incidents

It can further support your claim that your mental health issue was responsible for your legal predicament if you can provide records of past incidents. For example, it's possible that you've had previous run-ins with the police as a result of not taking your medication. Your attorney can access these records and use them to further build his or her argument that you were not in control of yourself when you're alleged to have broken the law. Together, these elements can help, especially at sentencing, depending on the severity of your alleged crime.

Talk to a professional criminal defense lawyer for more information or assistance.