If you are facing criminal charges, your mental health at the time of the alleged crime and at the time of the trial can affect your criminal case. An experienced Bergen County criminal defense lawyer can show the judge and jury evidence of the mental health issues you have been experiencing, and then they can fight for an outcome that actually helps you.
How Does a Defendant’s Mental Health Affect a Case?
A defendant’s mental health can factor into a criminal case in some significant ways. First of all, a defendant needs to be declared competent to stand trial if they are being accused of a crime. To be competent to stand trial a defendant must:
- Understand the charges against them
- Understand how the court works and what the roles of players like the prosecutor and jury are
- Be capable of consulting with a defense attorney and taking their advice
If someone has psychological issues and cannot understand these things, they cannot go to trial until something changes and they can be declared competent.
A defendant’s issues can also affect what kinds of punishments are doled out. In some cases, a jail sentence will not seem like an effective way to rehabilitate someone who is suffering from other issues. A defense attorney could fight for their client to spend time in a hospital or other institution that could help them with their issues instead.
What Evidence of Mental Health Issues Can Be Used in a Trial?
Of course, if someone wants to show that mental health issues are the reason why they committed a crime, it’s like any other argument made in court. You are going to require some evidence. Some things that could help establish a health problem include:
- Testimony from a doctor or another expert
- The medical history of a defendant
- Information about the medications a defendant has used or is currently using
All of this can help show that there has been a persistent issue and that mental health struggles are not just being used as an excuse by someone who wants to get away with a crime.
How Can a Defense Attorney Help?
When a defendant struggles with mental health issues, a seasoned defense attorney can help convince a judge or jury of that. They can gather evidence and fight for a sentence that would actually help the defendant get rehabilitated. A lawyer can also answer questions when their client is confused and keep them aware of important dates or deadlines.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Defendants with mental health issues can end up facing harsh punishments that do nothing to help them with their problems or assist them on the path to rehabilitation. If you are facing serious charges, contact the Law Office of Boyd & Squitieri and schedule a consultation. We can tell you more about how mental health can affect a criminal case and what we can do to help you.