How does a defendant’s mental health affect a criminal case?

According to research, certain mental health disorders increase a person’s risk of committing a crime as they are more prone to violence if they don’t receive adequate treatment. Those afflicted with mental health disorders have an impaired perception of reality. That said, many people wonder how these disorders can impact the outcome of a criminal case. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges but suffers from a mental health disorder, it’s in your best interest to contact a talented Rockland County Criminal Defense Attorney who can help protect your rights. Please continue reading to learn how a defendant’s mental health can impact the outcome of their criminal case in New York. 

What happens if the defendant in a criminal case has a mental health disorder?

While mental health conditions cannot typically be used as a defense in a criminal case, the prominence of mental health issues can potentially affect a defendant’s sentence. It’s crucial to understand that a defendant who isn’t competent to stand trial can’t be convicted of a crime. Courts require competency before defendants stand trial to safeguard their constitutional rights to a fair trial. Every person has the right to understand the proceedings against them and assist in their defense. Regardless of how substantial the evidence of guilt is, mentally incompetent individuals can’t be convicted. However, that doesn’t mean a defendant will get off scot-free.

Certain mental health disorders can significantly impact a person’s mood, thinking, and behavior. Examples of conditions that can affect a person’s ability to reason and make sound judgments include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Substance use disorders

If you have one of these disorders or another psychiatric condition and commit a crime, the court may find that you would be better served completing a treatment program in lieu of incarceration.

Should I consult an attorney?

If you’ve been charged with a crime but you have a mental health disorder, it’s in your best interest to retain the legal services of a qualified criminal defense attorney. If you fail to retain quality legal counsel, you risk getting the maximum sentence possible.

A Rockland County criminal defense attorney can prove that your actions resulted from an underlying condition. At the Law Office of Carl Spector, we are prepared to combat your charges to shield you from an uncertain future. We can determine whether an insanity or diminished capacity defense can be asserted. Allow our firm to represent your interests to maximize your chances of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.