Tempe Criminal Defense Lawyer

Mental Health - Civil Court Proceedings and Criminal Court Proceedings

I. Mental Health Civil Court Commitment Proceedings

Individuals who are unwilling or unable to seek treatment for a mental illness may find themselves in court proceedings which may result in a Court Order for Evaluation (COE) and/or a Court Order for Treatment (COT). Civil commitment court proceedings in Maricopa County, sometimes called Title 36 proceedings, normally occur at Desert Vista Behavioral Health Center (in Mesa), or at the Arizona State Hospital (in Phoenix). If you or a loved one are facing Title 36 proceedings, this Firm has extensive experience defending individuals confronting civil commitment proceedings, including Court Ordered Evaluation (COE) hearings, Court Ordered Treatment (COT) hearings, as well as Status Review hearings.

In Court Ordered Treatment (COT) hearings, the Court may order an individual to be committed to a treatment facility, not to exceed one year of treatment. Orders can sometimes be renewed after the one year period. However, before a person can be legally committed, the Court must first find that the person falls within the scope of at least one of the following categories: 1) is a Danger to Self (DTS), 2) is a Danger to Others (DTO), 3) is Persistently or Acutely Disabled (PAD), or, 4) is Gravely Disabled (GD).

If the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that an individual falls within the scope of one of the four criteria, the Court will issue a Court Order for Treatment (COT). The length and terms of the treatment order can vary and are primarily dependent on the circumstances of each individual case. If upon release from the treatment facility, an individual requires further treatment, he or she can then be re-petitioned and be subjected to in-patient treatment with additional court proceedings.

Contact a Tempe criminal defense attorney to learn more about the impact of mental health in both civil and criminal cases.

Criminal Cases and Mental Health Cases in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe & the Entire East Valley

II. Criminal Court Proceedings

In addition to civil commitment proceedings in civil court, a person suffering from a mental illness may also be accused of having committed crimes for which they are facing the prospect of criminal prosecution. When an individual with a mental illness is facing criminal prosecution, it is imperative that they have the assistance of a qualified attorney to assist them as they navigate the criminal court system. Mental illness can, under some circumstances, be a defense to criminal charges In the criminal court system the mental health of an individual is viewed from two distinct perspectives: first, the mental stability and condition of the accused at the time of the alleged offense; and second, the mental stability and condition of the accused at the time of their current prosecution in court. The former can sometimes be a substantive defense to the allegations confronting the mentally ill defendant (i.e., Guilty but Insane [GBI] or even a mens rea defense) while the latter can be a procedural defense which may, under some circumstances, prevent criminal proceedings from progressing.

Mr. Buckallew is uniquely experienced in representing individuals who are faced with mental health issues in both civil and criminal court proceedings. With over a decade of experience defending clients who suffer from mental illness against both criminal allegations and against civil commitment proceedings, Attorney Buckallew understands the importance of assessing the mental state of his clients during both the time of the alleged offense and during the court proceedings themselves. While at the Maricopa County Public Defenders Office, Mr. Buckallew practiced as a Senior Attorney for three years representing individuals in Civil Commitment hearings and has a proven track record of achieving favorable results in both civil and criminal proceedings. Additionally, Mr. Buckallew is a member of the legal division of the American Psychological Association.

Contact a Tempe criminal defense attorney to learn more about the impact of mental health in both civil and criminal cases. Free initial case evaluation available.