Articles Tagged with mental illness

The idea that there is some relationship between mental illness and crime is a popular theme when violent crimes are sensationalized in the media. People with mental illness live everywhere. So, it is unsurprising that some individuals accused of committing crimes in California also suffer from mental illness.

Mental Illness and Crime

According to a study conducted by David B. Kopel and Clayton E. Cramer, only a small minority of seriously mentally ill people commit violent crimes. However, close examination of mentally ill patients reveals the following:

  • Mentally ill patients comprise a large fraction of the jail and prison population;
  • Mentally ill people are disproportionately victimized by violent crime;
  • Some forms of mental illness increase the risk that a person will perpetrate a violent crime;
  • Untreated severe mental illness is significant in homicide cases; and
  • On a month to month basis mental illness treatment is more expensive in a hospital rather than prison.

San Diego Mental Health Collaborative Court (MHCC)

Since November 2016, San Diego county has offered a mental health collaborative court program to assist incarcerated people successfully reenter the community at the end of their jail or prison term. Assessments begin while the incarcerated person is still in jail and services start as soon as the individual is released.

A team of court personnel, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, and counselors work with the incarcerated person between the ages of 18 and 59 who have been involved in or are transitioning out of correctional facilities. The individual receives a personalized treatment plan, medication management, peer support counseling, a housing subsidy, and educational or vocational services and training.

Individuals are referred to the program directly by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. To be eligible for the program, the incarcerated person must be:

  • 18 or older;
  • Probation eligible
  • A U.S. citizen or contain lawful resident or temporary resident status;
  • Mentally competent;
  • Diagnosed with a serious mental illness;
  • Voluntarily participate in the program; and
  • Non-serious criminal charge.

Charged With a Crime in California?

A criminal case usually starts with a police arrest report. The prosecutor then decides what criminal charges to file. Some cases go to a grand jury for a preliminary indictment, where a jury decides if there is enough evidence to proceed. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in California, contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.

California offers individuals with mental illness programs in court, correction facilities, and post-release. Discuss your case with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney today. Continue reading

A Humboldt County Superior Court judge recently ruled that he will not be seeking a third psychiatric expert to evaluate accused murderer Gary Lee Bullock’s insanity plea, reasoning that he was only legally obligated to hire two. Gary Bullock will be standing trial for bludgeoning to death Friar Eric Freed at St. Bernard Catholic Church back on New Year’s Day, 2014. He also allegedly attempted to burn Freed’s body and blow up the rectory before stealing the victim’s car.

According to California state law, Bullock’s trial will be bifurcated as a result of his plea. This means that the first portion of the trial will have the jury determine whether or not he is guilty of the charged offenses. Then, if the jury returns a guilty verdict, it must follow Section 8 of the California State penal Code (known as the M’Naghten Rule) in order to determine whether Bullock was legally insane at the time of the accused act.

Bullock’s trial was delayed six times when the psychiatric evaluations were pushed back. Jury selection for Bullock’s case began last month.

Two years ago a San Diego man named Carlo Mercado was arrested for shooting his two brothers Salvatore and Gianni Belvedere and his fiancée, Ilona Flint, at Mission Valley mall on Christmas Eve. The couple was discovered shot inside their car, which was parked in the mall’s parking lot. Gianni’s decomposing body was also found in a car parked at a Riverside Mall in January 2014. San Diego Police arrested Mercado in June 2014. Mercado has pled not guilty on three counts of first-degree murder.  

Last November, a judge ruled Mercado not competent to stand trial for his murder charges after two psychiatrists and one psychologist diagnosed Mercado with schizophrenia, psychosis, and catatonic depression. The judge further ordered him to be treated at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, CA for the next three years until he was found competent to assist in his own defense. Mercado has been at San Diego Central Jail since this past September, since evaluators at the hospital said he was now competent to stand trial. Mercado’s lawyer then requested a competency trial for him, indicating that the defense team will be arguing Mercado is still unable to understand the nature of his criminal proceedings or assist in his own counsel. Earlier this week, a judge set the competency trial for December 14.

What Does it Mean to be Competent to Stand Trial?