Case Conclusion Date: September 9, 2003
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Suspended sentence and probation
Description: C. A. suffers from schizophrenia. During a period of decompensation he took an axe to a gas main resulting in a house fire. Later, he had another psychotic episode during which he assaulted an elderly person. C. A. was charged with felony arson and assault on an an elderly person. The later offense is also a felony and has a mandatory 2 year sentence. While hospitalized after the offenses, C. A. came under the care of a caring and talented psychiatrist who was able to determine a medication protocol that enabled C. A. to function in a normal manner. There was a defense based on his mental state, but it seemed inappropriate to force him to be held in an institution for people with mental illnesses when with the new medication he was able to function without significant symptoms of his mental illness. Similarly, it seemed wrong for him to be incarcerated, when he had no intent to commit the crimes he was involved in. After several pretrial conferences, two of which were attended by the psychiatrist, C. A. plead guilty to lesser charges and was given a suspended sentence, a period of probation and was released with the condition that he attend treatment, remain medication compliant and follow the doctor's therapeutic recommendations. C. A. and his family were greatly relieved that he was not incarcerated or institutionalized, particularly because those outcomes would have likely worsened his condition.