man with hands on his face

Unfortunately, there is often a stigma surrounding those who suffer from mental health issues. They are often viewed as broken or dangerous, which is far from the truth. However, depending on the illness they suffer and whether or not they are receiving treatment, those impacted can act erratically with clouded judgment, which can lead to criminal charges. If you or a loved one are facing jail time, understanding how mental illness can impact your trial is essential. The following blog explores what you should know about these complex issues and how a Cobb County criminal defense lawyer can assist you through these confusing times.

What Kind of Mental Health Issues Can Impact Criminal Charges?

There’s an important distinction to be made when discussing mental health and criminal charges. Not everyone who has a mental health issue is violent or a criminal, just as not all criminals have mental health issues. However, there is an overlap between the two, so it’s vital to understand how the courts handle mental health during a criminal trial.

Generally, when someone who commits a crime suffers from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), personality disorders, bipolar-affective disorder, schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses, it can impact how they view the world and factor into the crime. As such, the courts consider this a mitigating factor, and it will be taken into consideration.

How Is This Used as a Defense?

In general, a criminal defense attorney may be able to prove that someone is not guilty of a crime because of their mental illness. If the mental illness is severe, the attorney for the client may request a competency ruling. This occurs when a mental health professional conducts a report on whether or not the defendant understands what is happening. If they are not competent to stand trial, they will likely be placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services. This is because the law has determined that those deemed incompetent cannot be tried by a justice system they do not understand.

If the defendant is fit to stand trial, their attorney can still use their mental illness to help find them not guilty. For example, if they can prove that the defendant had a genuine belief that their actions were justified or the actions were the result of an involuntary compulsion, they may be found not guilty by reason of insanity. While this will still result in treatment in a mental hospital, the defendant will receive the necessary care they need as opposed to incarceration, where they will likely suffer further.

At the Miller Law Practice, we understand how devastating it can be to have a loved one charged with a crime they didn’t know they were committing. As such, our team will do everything possible to assist you through these challenging times to help you and your loved one achieve the best possible outcome for these unfortunate circumstances. Contact our team today to learn how we can assist you through these complicated times.