Mental Health Diversion
There may be situations where an individual suffering from mental illness is charged with a minor misdemeanor offense(s) in the nature of a public disturbance. These cases are not eligible for the Mental Health Court, which accepts only felony cases. However, appropriate misdemeanor cases may be referred to a Mental Health Review Team (MHRT) using the MHRT Referral Form. In order for the MHRT to review the referral, the defendant is required to sign a Release of Information for all current and previous treatment providers. Once treatment records are secured, the MHRT is able to evaluate the referral and make a recommendation. Based on this information, the Prosecutor’s Office may exercise discretion to offer Mental Health Diversion to appropriate individuals suffering from mental illness who are charged with a minor misdemeanor offense(s).
The Mental Health Review Team (MHRT) is a multi-disciplinary team whose membership includes a deputy prosecutor, a deputy public defender, representatives from the probation department, the Jail Diversion Coordinator, and representatives from Centerstone (local mental health treatment provider0. It is a smaller group that the Mental Health Court Team, but has some of the same members.
Although the Mental Health Review Team (MHRT) evaluates the individual and may make specific treatment recommendations, Mental Health Diversion is offered at the sole discretion of the Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor may refuse to offer diversion due to considerations such as the threat to the safety of the community, or the danger to a particular victim.
Factors that may be considered by the Mental Health Review Team (MHRT) include the following:
- Nature of the mental illness.
- Assessment of treatment history
- Likelihood of responsiveness to treatment
- Nature of the offense
- Public safety of the community
- Criminal/probation history of the defendant
- Victim input
- Likelihood that diversion will reduce recidivism
- Best interests of the defendant
Mental Health Diversion typically requires the defendant to successfully comply with the terms of a mental health treatment plan in coordination with a treatment provider for a period of time. To enter the Mental Health Diversion program the defendant must sign a written agreement to comply with the terms and conditions of the program. If the defendant successfully complies with all the terms of the diversion agreement, the case will be dismissed at the end of the diversion term, which is usually one year. If the defendant violates the terms of the diversion agreement, a notice of non-compliance will be filed with the court. The court may set a hearing at which evidence is presented, and may determine a sanction pursuant to the mental health diversion agreement. Or, the case may be reactivated and the prosecutor may refile the original criminal charge(s).
In misdemeanor cases deemed inappropriate for diversion, the Mental Health Review Team may also recommend mental health treatment conditions that may be incorporated into a potential plea agreement as terms of probation. If the plea agreement is accepted by the Judge in the case, then the conditions are overseen by probation and enforced by the Judge. Failure to comply with the terms of a mental health treatment plan as a condition of probation can be addressed by he Judge as a violation of probation.