Dealing With Mentally Impaired Defendants in California Criminal Court

California, as most other states, has procedures to deal with criminal defendants who have mental disorders.  When a defendant appears in Court and displays any behavior that suggests the defendant may be incompetent to stand trial, a Judge can order an evaluation of the defendant’s mental ability to participate in the criminal proceedings. California law provides that if the judge or a defense lawyer believes that the defendant is mentally disordered and as a result may be incompetent to stand trial, the court may order that the defendant be taken to a designated health care facility for a 72-hour evaluation and treatment in accordance with Penal Code section 4011.6. If the defendant is not represented by an attorney, the court must appoint an attorney and declare a recess, if requested by the defendant or defense counsel, to allow counsel to confer with the defendant and to form an opinion as to whether the defendant is mentally disordered. The court proceedings are suspended for the duration of the 72-hour treatment and evaluation. If, after the completion of the evaluation and treatment, the court concludes that the defendant is competent, the criminal proceedings are reinstated.  It should be noted that the appeals court in CA has deemed the CA Penal Code treatment of misdemeanor defendants to be unconstitutional and orders all Courts to treat those with mental issues the same as in felony cases.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty five years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV regarding license suspension hearings stemming from drunk driving arrests.
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