Your Mental Health Matters in King County Criminal Court Cases

Mental health matters. People from all walks of life deal with hurdles in life due to mental health challenges each and every day. Unfortunately, stigmas surrounding mental illness remain and people often associate mental illness with violent, irresponsible, and criminal behavior.

In reality, mental health challenges are not always a precursor to criminal acts. A large percentage of people dealing with these issues never commit crimes and live fruitful lives while contributing to their community.

For the purposes of this article, we are talking exclusively about situations where individuals with mental health challenges are accused of crimes in King County. You are not just a statistic and punishment does not have to be the outcome of your case. Thankfully, King County gives consideration to the mental health of the accused.  Many of the smaller jurisdictions and cities do as well.

Diagnosis Matters

Mental health challenges can impact your case if you have an already diagnosed or diagnosable mental illness. Short of that, your case may proceed with a more punishment-oriented court process. The courts and prosecutors generally take into consideration how a diagnosable illness impacted your actions and your ability to manage yourself during the incident in question.

If you do not have a diagnosis but believe you should, you and your attorney may choose to connect with a qualified mental health professional to discuss your situation. A diagnosis or understanding of the psychological factors at play  might become a vital part of your defense. Even common diagnoses like depression and anxiety can make a difference.

Regional Mental Health Court in King County

Thankfully, King County courts understand the unique needs of individuals with mental illness. The King County District Court Regional Mental Health Court ensures ongoing treatment for mental illnesses as the criminal court case proceeds. This confronts the historic gaps between the criminal justice system and the mental healthcare system.

You are still in criminal court facing criminal charges, but the mental health court process is more supportive and designed to address the root nature of why the alleged event in question occurred. People in need of treatment often face a vicious cycle of recidivism when these root causes remain unaddressed and untreated. Accountability matters to the courts and prosecutors but so too do meaningful resolutions.

Defendants going through the Regional Mental Health Court system must comply with conditions assigned by the court which can include:

  • Up to 24 months of probation with a mental health court probation counselor
  • Active engagement with mental health treatment
  • Taking medications as directed
  • Attend court reviews on a regulation basis. 

The Court, probation, and the prosecutor support your treatment and the goal is to help you through your criminal case.

Mental Health Court might not be a good fit or option for you. A standard criminal process, such as having a trial, is always an option and your constitutional right.  But if trial is not a good option for you, there are advantages to mental health court in many cases. 

Mental Health As a Defense or Mitigation

Sometimes mental illness can become an actual defense to the crime charge.  However, if it falls short of an actual defense, your attorney may be able to argue that it is “mitigation” in your case. That means that it is a compelling reason for why an incident occurred. “Mitigation” is not a defense that means a case is dropped, but it can help you get more lenient treatment from the prosecutor and court.

Work with a Compassionate Legal Team

At Burke Brown Attorneys PLLC, we are thankful to work in a region that cares about its people and that there are options for our clients. The mental health of a defendant absolutely matters and impacts the way people act. If you are facing criminal charges and believe you need to connect with the Regional Mental Health Court in King County, contact our law firm to learn more about your options today.

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