Mental health has become an increasingly important topic in the criminal justice system in recent years. This is primarily because mental health disorders afflict millions of people across the United States, and few have the resources to receive the necessary treatment. Certain mental health disorders can directly impact a person’s reasoning and actions. If you or a loved one was charged with a crime but suffers from a mental health condition, it’s in your best interest to contact our adept Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorneys, who can help protect your rights. Please continue reading to learn how a defendant’s mental health can affect the outcome of their criminal case.
How can a person’s mental health impact a criminal case in New York?
Before a case can proceed to trial, the court must establish whether they’re competent to stand trial if there is any question about a defendant’s mental status. However, it’s crucial to note that not every condition automatically means a defendant is incompetent to stand trial. In most cases, a psychological evaluation will be conducted. To be mentally competent to stand trial, a defendant must meet the following criteria:
- Be able to understand the nature of the charges and the potential penalties
- Be able to understand the role of the judge, jury, prosecutor, and criminal defense attorney
- Be able to process information
- Be able to adequately communicate with legal counsel
Ultimately, if a defendant is deemed mentally competent to stand trial, they cannot be convicted of a crime as it would violate their constitutional rights to a fair trial. Certain mental health disorders can directly affect an individual’s perception of reality and ability to make sound judgments. The following include but are not limited to the types of mental health disorders that may affect a criminal case:
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
If a criminal defendant suffers from one of these disorders or another condition and commits a crime, a judge may find that they would be better served in a treatment program in lieu of imprisonment. Generally, this ruling occurs when a defendant is deemed incompetent to stand trial. As mentioned above, defendants cannot be convicted if they’re deemed incompetent to stand trial.
If you’re facing criminal charges and suspect that your conduct was the result of a mental health illness, please don’t hesitate to contact a seasoned Nassau County criminal defense attorney. At Grunwald & Seman, P.C., we are prepared to shield you from your charges. Allow our firm to represent your interests today to maximize your chances of achieving the best possible outcome.