As a criminal defense attorney in Vancouver (Clark County), Washington who has successfully handled a wide-ranging array of criminal cases, ranging from Disorderly Conduct to Attempted Murder in the Second Degree. I have encountered mental health issues throughout my practice involving my clients that were relevant both to potential defenses (insanity and diminished capacity) as well as mitigation (a justification why someone should receive a lesser charge or lessor sentence). I have used these mental health issues to successfully defend my clients in a number of cases throughout my career. However, to be clear though, just because someone has mental health issues does not mean they have a mental health defense or mitigation.
Clark County Felony Mental Health Court
Now of course beyond the individual case perspective there still exists the issues for clients in dealing with their mental health issues from a treatment perspective so they do not return to a situation where they are facing criminal charges again. A new approach in the local Vancouver, Clark County, Washington is the Felony Mental Health Court that has come online in 2018. The Felony Mental Health Court is an extension of the Misdemeanor Mental Health Court that has existed for many years. In this article I will explain the Felony and Misdemeanor Mental Health Court, that includes their new features. This article will be in several sections/parts due to the length and depth I will go into.
Mental Health Court is a Clark County Therapeutic Specialty Court that treats felony and misdemeanor defendants on a combined docket. Mental Health Court offers eligible participants the chance to enter an alternative treatment program for those potential participants with serious and persistent mental illness. This collaborative team approach is a partnership of people interested in supervising and assisting people who are willing to makes changes in their life using best practice and evidence-based approaches.
As of January 1, 2018, Mental Health Court is a “pre-plea” program that accepts both misdemeanor and felony offenses. To participate, the participant must waive his or her right to a speedy trial and voluntarily agree to enter and abide by the conditions set forth in the program contract. If a defendant successfully completes the program (graduates), the defendant’s pending charges will be dismissed, with prejudice. Dismissed with Prejudice means that the charges cannot ever be reinstated again.
Qualifying for The Mental Health Court
The potential participant must qualify under the guidelines as defined in RCW 2.30.030 with the following conditions included:
A defendant applying for MHC will be disqualified if:
Case-by-Case Disqualifying Factors
A defendant applying for MHC may be disqualified and will be staffed on a case-by-case basis if he/she has been convicted (as juvenile or as an adult) oil is currently charged with:
This is part 1 of a multiple post series on Mental Health legal defense in Clark County, WA. Part 2.
Nicholas "Nick" Wood - Law Office of Nicholas Wood, P.S.
Nick Wood received his J.D. in 1999 from Lewis and Clark's Northwestern School of Law in Portland, Oregon. The Law Office of Nicholas Wood, P.S. has represented clients for various criminal defense matters since 2006.