Domestic Violence: Mental Health Diversion

Many cases in California’s criminal justice system involve defendants with mental health issues. Domestic violence cases are no different. Very often, people who are accused of domestic violence suffer from a mental health diagnosis. While other forms of diversion may not apply to domestic violence cases, mental health diversion does. Penal Code section 1001.36 is California’s mental health diversion statute.

A mental health diversion motion is a request to postpone prosecution while the defendant gets help for a diagnosed mental health disorder. After the defendant completes treatment, the court dismisses the domestic violence case.

Mental Health Diversion may lead a dismissal of your domestic violence charge.

Domestic Violence Charges

In California, domestic violence

Steps to Request Mental Health Diversion in a Domestic Violence Case

  1. Consult an attorney. The attorney should be well-versed in both domestic violence defense and diversion motions.
  2. Get a mental health evaluation from a reputable mental health professional. This evaluation will clearly demonstrate how the defendant meets the elements of California’s mental health diversion law. The evaluator will make a diagnosis, demonstrate how that diagnosis motivated the charged conduct, and layout a treatment plan.
  3. File a motion in court, showing how the attached evaluation meets all of the legal elements to qualify for mental health diversion.
  4. Attend the court hearing on the motion. When the court grants the motion, it will layout a treatment plan. The treatment plan may include therapy, medication management, substance abuse treatment, 12-step meetings, and/or other case-specific options. The diversion may be for up to two years in felony cases and one year in misdemeanor cases.
  5. Comply with the treatment plan and other terms of diversion.
  6. Attend all progress report hearings. The court will set interim dates for progress reports. The defendant will need to provide progress reports from their treatment providers.
  7. Case Dismissed! Attend the final court hearing, where the judge will dismiss and seal the case.

Legal Requirements for Mental Health Diversion in a Domestic Violence Case

The court may grant mental health diversion if it is satisfied that the defendant meets eligibility and suitability factors. The eligibility factors are that the defendant: (1) Suffers from a diagnosed mental health condition in the DSM V; and (2) That diagnosed condition was a substantial factor in the charged conduct. The suitability factors are that the defendant: (1) Agrees to the terms of diversion; and (2) Does not pose an unreasonable danger to the community.

Each of these factors has a more in-depth legal definition. Our broader article about California’s mental health diversion statute is available here.

Attorney Don Hammond at Criminal Defense Heroes, P.C., has extensive experience in getting judges to grant mental health diversion motions in domestic violence cases. Our team of experts and attorneys work together to set our clients up for success. Judges have granted our mental health diversion motions in almost every case where we have filed one. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, call us today at 323-529-3660 for a free consultation!