Legal Help for Mental Health Diversion

Navigating the complexities of the criminal justice system can be especially challenging for individuals with mental health conditions. Mental health diversion programs, as outlined in Penal Code section 1001.36, offer a path to rehabilitation and the dismissal of charges. This article provides an in-depth understanding of mental health diversion, the eligibility criteria, and how legal services can assist in these cases.

Understanding Mental Health Diversion 1001.36

Penal Code section 1001.36 allows courts to grant pre-trial diversion for individuals diagnosed with specific mental health disorders. This diversion can lead to the dismissal of charges if the defendant complies with treatment requirements.

Key Points of Penal Code 1001.36:

  1. Pre-Trial Diversion: The program is completed before entering a plea and can result in dismissal of all charges.
  2. Court Discretion: Courts have the discretion to grant diversion even over the district attorney’s objection, provided the eligibility criteria are met.

Mental Diversion Program in California

California’s mental diversion program is designed to address the needs of individuals whose criminal behavior is linked to a diagnosed mental health condition.

Program Features:

  1. Diagnosis Requirement: The defendant must have a mental health diagnosis from a qualified mental health expert, which must be a significant factor in the commission of the charged offense.
  2. Treatment Compliance: The defendant must agree to comply with mental health treatment as a condition of the diversion program.
  3. Public Safety: The defendant must not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety during treatment.

How Mental Health Diversion 1001.36 Works

The mental health diversion process involves several steps, from diagnosis to court approval and treatment compliance.

Steps in the Diversion Process:

  1. Diagnosis: The defendant must be diagnosed with a qualifying mental disorder such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or PTSD. Disorders like antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder are excluded.
  2. Court Approval: The court reviews the diagnosis and determines if the mental disorder significantly contributed to the offense. The court also considers the suitability for diversion, including public safety concerns.
  3. Treatment Plan: A qualified mental health expert must opine that the defendant’s symptoms would respond to treatment. The defendant must consent to treatment and waive the right to a speedy trial.

Eligibility for Mental Health Diversion Felony

Mental health diversion is not limited to misdemeanors; individuals charged with felonies may also be eligible, provided they meet specific criteria.

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Qualifying Disorder: The defendant must have a qualifying mental disorder.
  2. Significant Factor: The disorder must be a significant factor in the commission of the offense.
  3. Response to Treatment: The disorder must be treatable, and the defendant must agree to comply with the treatment plan.
  4. Risk Assessment: The defendant must not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to public safety if treated in the community.

Why Choose Our Legal Services for Mental Health Diversion

Selecting the right legal representation is crucial for navigating the complexities of mental health diversion programs. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to providing comprehensive support and advocacy for individuals seeking mental health diversion.

Key Benefits of Our Legal Services:

  1. Expertise in Mental Health Law: Our attorneys specialize in mental health diversion cases and are well-versed in the intricacies of Penal Code 1001.36.
  2. Personalized Case Evaluation: We provide thorough evaluations to determine eligibility and develop a tailored defense strategy.
  3. Strong Advocacy: We advocate vigorously on behalf of our clients, ensuring their rights are protected throughout the legal process.
  4. Comprehensive Support: From obtaining a proper diagnosis to navigating court proceedings and ensuring compliance with treatment plans, we provide comprehensive support every step of the way.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mental Health Diversion

1. What is mental health diversion under Penal Code 1001.36?
Mental health diversion allows individuals with qualifying mental health disorders to undergo treatment instead of traditional prosecution, potentially leading to the dismissal of charges.

2. Who is eligible for mental health diversion?
Eligibility requires a diagnosis of a qualifying mental disorder that significantly contributed to the offense, agreement to comply with treatment, and no unreasonable risk to public safety.

3. What types of disorders qualify for mental health diversion?
Qualifying disorders include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, PTSD, and others, excluding antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and pedophilia.

4. Can felonies be included in mental health diversion?
Yes, individuals charged with certain felonies may be eligible for mental health diversion if they meet the specified criteria.

5. How can a lawyer help with mental health diversion?
A lawyer can assist with obtaining a diagnosis, preparing and presenting a strong case for diversion, navigating court procedures, and ensuring compliance with treatment plans.


Mental health diversion offers a valuable opportunity for individuals with mental health disorders to receive treatment and avoid traditional prosecution. Understanding the eligibility criteria and navigating the legal process can be challenging, but with the right legal support, achieving a favorable outcome is possible. If you or a loved one is seeking mental health diversion, contact an experienced attorney today to explore your options and ensure your rights are protected.