Society is finally waking up to the reality that we’ve known for some time: that the criminal justice system is the wrong place for those struggling with mental health challenges. Some people have been trying to raise these issues for some time. For example, see this opinion article from the NY times from 2004. Too often, people who simply need help are charged with crimes, which is not the solution.
Our work in mental health cases has resulted in the avoidance of life in prison, the dismissal of cases, outcomes that focus on treatment and not punishment, and the stabilization of our clients’ lives through the coordination of services.
Cases involving mental health can involve different approaches, and can include issues related to competency, mental health mitigation, or raising defenses such as impaired mental condition and not guilty by reason of insanity. We have had success employing these strategies and many others to advocate strongly for our clients and get positive oucomes.
We specialize in mental health cases because we are so familiar with the frequent injustice that results when citizens with mental illness come into contact with the police. We work to develop the mental health related issues in our cases before charges are filed, during the trial court process, and also in post-conviction proceedings and appeals.
Jails are not good places for people suffering from mental health challenges. Probation can be even worse in many cases. And the police do not have the tools to effectively cope with many of the situations they confront that involve people with mental health crises. The police generally only have one tool, and that is the use of force, which almost never makes the situation better. This has been recognized in the media as the city of Denver looks to other options for how our government can respond to situations involving mental health crises. There is also a need for more Critical Incident Training so that officers can be better equipped to handle situations without having to resort to using force.
At Mulligan Breit McConnell, LLC, we have a deep knowledge of mental health issues and a strong network of professionals that we draw on to help our clients. We work hard, first, to understand our clients and the challenges they face. This involves getting to know our client, requesting records and other information, and working with those who know our client best. We then work to educate others about the struggles of our clients and how that may have impacted what happened. We have been very successful at formulating creative solutions that often involve diverting the matter away from the criminal justice system or unjust punishments.