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California DUI & Mental Health Diversion (Penal Code 1001.36)

Man sits with his head on his hands, which are clasped together.Do you suffer from a mental illness? If so, and you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI, it’s possible that you could reap the benefits of California State Penal Code 1001.36. That’s because this new (and somewhat controversial) state law allows people with certain mental illnesses to go into a pretrial diversion program, receive treatment, and ultimately erase the charges against them. This law covers most mental illnesses, including (but not limited to):

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Schizophrenia

The only mental illnesses that are not covered in this law are antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia.

About Penal Code 1001.36

We’re talking about Penal Code 1001.36, which is also known as “mental health diversion” in California. This program resulted from the passing of California Senate Bill 215 (SB215) and became effective on June 27, 2018. Australia passed a similar law a few years earlier. The goal of the law is to steer people with mental health conditions into treatment and away from jail or prison.

What You Need to Know About California’s Mental Health Diversion Program

If your mental health treatment is ultimately deemed successful after up to two years in the diversion program, all charges will be dropped. If at any time the judge determines the treatment isn’t working, the criminal case can start again.

“Pretrial diversion” allows defendants to postpone further action in their cases so they can participate in treatment plans. This motion can be requested at any point in a criminal case before a defendant receives his or her sentence.

If you partake in the program and successfully complete all of the requirements, the charges against you will be dropped. Your arrest record will be sealed as though the arrest never even happened.

Qualifying for California’s Mental Health Diversion Program

Both misdemeanor and felony offenses may be considered eligible for mental health diversion under Penal Code 1001.36. However, the court can only approve a program of treatment if EACH REQUIRED CONDITION has successfully been met.

  • You suffer from a mental health condition (not antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, or pedophilia);
  • Your mental disorder played a significant role in the offense for which you’re being charged;
  • A mental health team expects that you’d respond well to mental health treatment;
  • You’re willing to waive your right to a speedy trial in favor of the diversion program;
  • You agree to comply with the terms and requirements of your diversion program as set forth by the court;
  • The court is satisfied that you won’t pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.

How Do You Prove You Have a Mental Illness?

A qualified medical expert will need to examine you and provide evidence of a diagnosis. This expert may call upon your arrest records and/or medical records, as well as information they glean from their own examination.

The court will need to determine if your mental illness played a significant role in your alleged crime. To determine if this is the situation in your case, the judge will likely review any relevant and credible evidence, such as:

  • Police reports
  • Preliminary hearing transcripts
  • Witness statements
  • Statements provided by your mental health provider
  • Medical records
  • Records provided by qualified medical experts

Jon Artz & California’s Mental Health Diversion Program

Gary Kauffman, Attorney at Law in Marin, California says the following of Jon Artz:

“Lately Jon Artz has been in the forefront of mental health defense for DUI diversion. He has been fighting on the front lines with reluctant judges and prosecutors in order to persuade them that his clients should have their DUI dismissed through a program of mental health treatment and therapy. He is really a lawyer where other lawyers use his work to get their clients the same sorts of benefits under the new mental health diversion laws.”

If you’ve been arrested for DUI and suffer from a mental illness, Jon Artz might be the right defense attorney for you. After all, you need someone who’s experienced with Penal Code 1001.36 on your side. You can reach out to Jon online or call (310) 820-1315 to speak with someone in our office.

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