3 Things to Know If You Have a Mental Health Condition and Committed a Crime

If You Are Facing Criminal Charges, You May Be Eligible for Diversion


If you have a diagnosable mental health condition and have committed a crime, you need to do these three things:

1. You Need an Attorney

The first, and most important is finding a criminal defense attorney to represent you. If you cannot afford an attorney one may be appointed by the court. An attorney can help fight the charges against you and determine the best course of action. They will be able to obtain evidence in your case including the police report.

2. You May Be Eligible for Diversion

In addition to preparing a defense, a lawyer will help determine whether you are eligible for a pre-trial diversion program. Under California Penal Code Section 1001.36 defendants with diagnosable mental health conditions may be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program. 

Eligibility may be based on the type of crime that was committed, whether the disorder played a significant role in the commission of the crime, and the type of disorder that the person suffers from. The defendant must agree to treatment as a condition of diversion and must successfully complete the program.

3. You Need to Get a Formal Diagnosis

In order to qualify for a mental health diversion program, you must have a mental health condition listed in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Certain conditions, however, do not qualify including antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia.

In order to prove the existence of a mental health disorder, the defendant must have evidence of a recent diagnosis by a qualified mental health expert. Obtaining a formal diagnosis can help you be approved for diversion.