Riverside Mental Health Criminal Defense Attorney

California’s incarceration system is seeing a steady rise in offenders suffering from mental illness. With nearly one-third of California’s prisoners receiving treatment for a mental health disorder, legislators are implementing programs to help offenders manage their illness and successfully rejoin society. If you are struggling with mental illness and are arrested for a crime, a Riverside mental health criminal defense attorney can introduce you to these programs. Most importantly, an empathetic and skilled lawyer can show your misconduct was caused by your mental illness as opposed to malicious intent to commit a crime.


Helping People with Mental Disorders Navigate the Criminal Justice System

People with mental health disorders face a unique array of challenges that complicate their recovery and impede their ability to break the cycle of crime. Some of these challenges include the following:

  • Failure to take prescribed medication as recommended by their doctors (often due to an inability to afford the cost of these medications)
  • Difficulty sustaining employment
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Homelessness and lack of social support

California’s criminal justice system is evolving to include more resources to address these issues. However, unless you have a strong working knowledge of California’s Mental Health Diversion policies, you may not know the proper steps to take to access these resources. The best way to understand how these policies can benefit you is to hire a mental health criminal defense attorney in Riverside.


Top-Rated Riverside Mental Health Criminal Defense Attorney

Mental Health Court in California

Mental health courts (MHCs) were first introduced in 1999 to serve defendants who struggle with mental illness. Their primary purpose is to deliver treatment and other services designed to help participants overcome their challenges. While MHCs may vary in terms of their requirements and service offerings, they share three common goals:

  • To reduce repeat offenses and help participants make a smooth return to society
  • To boost public safety
  • To enhance participants’ quality of life

Participation in MHCs is voluntary and case management services are provided. MHCs have proven to be an effective way of boosting participants’ use of available treatment services while decreasing the likelihood that they will be rearrested. MHCs are most effective when participation begins quickly after arrest.


California Mental Health Diversion

California Penal Code 1001.36 allows for “mental health diversion,” another program that was developed to help mentally ill individuals get the treatment they need and want in order to enjoy a better life. At the same time, mental health diversion can help the individual avoid a conviction or blemish on their arrest record.

Who Is Eligible?

Not everyone with a mental health condition who allegedly commits a crime is eligible for mental health diversion. To be considered for one this program, you must meet a set of specific criteria. For example, you must suffer from a mental health condition and show the following:

  • A strong link between your mental health condition and your role in the alleged crime
  • A high probability that you will respond to treatment
  • A willingness to participate in treatment

Additionally, you must waive your right to a speedy trial, and the court must be satisfied that you do not pose an imminent threat to public safety. Finally, there are some mental health disorders that would exclude you from mental health diversion. These include antisocial personality disorder, pedophilia, and borderline personality disorder.


Mental health diversion involves ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment that may last for up to two years. During this time, the court receives regular progress reports on the participant. Treatment may be modified in accordance with progress or setbacks.


Don’t let one wrong decision impact your life, job or freedom.

Call today for a free case evaluation.

Competency to Stand Trial

One of the first steps to take when working with a defendant is to determine whether that individual is competent to stand trial. To make this determination, a competency hearing is scheduled to evaluate the defendant’s ability to understand the basic legal aspects of their case.

Competency hearings typically involve an interview conducted by a psychiatrist who will ask the defendant a series of questions about their alleged crime and what they remember about it. If they exhibit complete confusion, or if they are unable to understand the role of their lawyer and the judge, the defendant could be deemed incompetent to stand trial. Incompetency does not mean the case is dismissed; the trial will be deferred until the defendant receives adequate treatment and is declared competent for trial.


A Riverside Mental Health Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Navigating your way through the Riverside criminal justice system is not easy—especially if you are grappling with mental health issues. Whether this is your first experience facing charges or your fifth, you likely want to do everything you can to avoid a conviction and put yourself on the path to recovery from your illness. Here are just a few ways a Riverside criminal defense attorney who specializes in mental health cases can help you:

  • Assist you in gaining access to mental health courts in the Riverside area
  • Fight on your behalf for you to be placed in a mental health diversion program
  • Review the details of your illness and case to help secure the best possible outcome

Contact a Riverside mental health criminal defense attorney today for a free consultation.



Our Process


  • Arrest


    The accused is taken into custody. Police will ask basic discovery questions like name and address to identify a person, then pivot to more specific questions related to the incident.

  • Reading Your

    Reading Your

    You have the right to remain silent to avoid disclosing evidence that could potentially be self-incriminating, as well as the right to an attorney to defend you in court.

  • Booking


    The police will take you in for booking — Police will fingerprint you and get and updated photograph for their records. After, you’ll be given a chance to contact your criminal defense lawyer.

  • Arraignment


    The arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you’re going to plea. If you plead guilty, the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, your attorney will prepare for trial.

  • Discovery


    In the discovery stage, you’ll get to see exactly what evidence the prosecution has against you. This is when your attorney can make additional requests for evidence if need be and strengthen your defense.

  • Plea Bargaining

    Plea Bargaining

    Accepting the plea bargain is the last chance to plead guilty before the trial. Reduced charges may be presented to quickly settle the case and avoid trial.

  • Trial


    The prosecutor presents the case to the jury. Any evidence or witness statements are shared at at this time. Afterward, it’s your lawyers turn to take the stands and share your side of the story. The jury will make a final verdict.

  • Sentencing


    At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you were found guilty of. Decisions are based on the advised penalties for the specific charges in question.

Possible Penalties For A Criminal Conviction

Jail or Prison Time

Substantial Fines

Lengthy Probation

License Suspension

Mandatory Education

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process for mental health diversion?

A mental health diversion program can be introduced at any point before trial ensues. The program must be one that addresses the defendant’s mental health struggles and can be secured using public or private payment. The defendant’s charges will be dismissed once the following take place:

  • The mental health diversion program is successfully completed
  • The defendant has completed all related program requirements
  • There is a long-term plan in place to address the defendant’s mental health
  • The defendant has not committed any new crimes during the course of the program

Is mental health considered in court?

Yes. During court proceedings, defense attorneys may focus on a defendant’s poor mental health, describing their disorder and resulting symptoms. Then, the defense attorney may claim it was the individual’s mental health disorder—not a malicious intent to commit a crime—that caused them to engage in the alleged misconduct.

Can a mentally ill person be prosecuted?

Yes, but the context of the hearing will be much different depending on the severity of a person’s disorder. There are varying degrees of mental illness and certain disorders that may prevent a mentally ill person from being prosecuted. For instance, if a person is in the midst of a severe acute psychotic episode, they may be unable to understand the nature of the legal proceedings surrounding their case. The Court will suspend criminal proceedings, and order that they are seen by doctors to complete competency evaluations. After the evaluations, they may be deemed incompetent to be tried or convicted as long as they are incapacitated by their mental illness.


Criminal Defense for All

We Serve All Riverside County

The district attorney is building their case against you right now. The Prosecutor will not take your charges lightly — Will you?

Southwest Courthouse

  • Murrieta
  • Temecula

Riverside Courthouse

  • Moreno Valley
  • Riverside

Banning Courthouse

  • Beaumont
  • San Jacinto

Indio Courthouse

  • Indio
  • Palm Desert

Santa Anna Courthouse

  • Santa Ana
  • Orange

Fullerton Courthouse

  • Anaheim
  • Fullerton

Irvine Courthouse

  • Irvine
  • Costa Mesa

Westminster Courthouse

  • Huntington Beach
  • Garden Grove