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What mental illnesses or disorders can consider a person incompetent resulting in a drop of charges?

Orlando, FL |

If this person has an extensive history of Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Obsessive compulsive disorder, Paranoia, and has been hospitalized for these disorders etc.

And this person was a driver in a theft but was not on his medication at the time of the incident, also the person has years of extensive severe mental health history (Bipolar Disorder, OCD, History of Paranoia, ADHD) and medication/therapy at the age of 18-19 yo First offense; No priors but has been baker acted/ hospitalized as a minor 17 y.o this person caught charges at 18 and is now awaiting case conference management/pre-trial. The charges alleged against this person are Grand Theft 300< 5000 2x Criminal mischief 2x . And a confession by the driver was made during the arrest but during a OCD/Bipolar episode, Can a public defender work this case with the proper documentation of illness and letter from a psychologist? And how can this benefit the person and how can it be proven that when statements where made at the time of the arrest the person was mentally unstable?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. In all candor, this question calls for a lot of answering.....LOL. I will give you an overview, but if he or she has an assistant public defender assigned to the case, I would first ask whether or not you have discussed this matter with him or her, and if so, what aspect of the answer or answers received called for additional clarification (assuming that some or all did). Further, if that was the case did you request that he or she revisit the issue or issues with you until you had a level of understanding with which you were satisfied.

    My perspective of the role that my colleagues and I play in terms of the law; the public; and the process is flexible in large part, but I do not like to answer questions that seems to call for a rebuttal to an answer previously provided by whomever is providing representation to a given individual. In other words, I am not here to second guess counsel of records, or to armchair quarterback. I think many would agree with the sentiment. Furthermore, as a former Assistant Public Defender, who, it is my absolutely firm belief, never gave less than 100% to his clients, I would not have wanted to be second guessed, just for sport. Now, if the issue is that you have made a bona fide effort to secure information and have been unable to open a line of communication, that may be a problem. May be. There are times when not enough patience is afforded APD's who are generally speaking, inundated with clients and cases.

    To give you a general overview, there is no diagnosis -- however severe; chronic; acute, for that matter; or otherwise of such nature that it makes reality difficult with which to connect, or the most simple tasks overwhelming at times, that, although something with which all of us, I am sure, have some working familiarity in former or current clients, and for which disease processes' sufferers we all have great sympathy -- which results in dismissal of charges upon confirmation of said diagnosis, or, in other words, the existence of said disease process at work in a terribly troubled individual which simply makes it go away. That is, unless you have an incredibly sympathetic Assistant State Attorney with whom you have an incredible and lengthy working relationship and he or she grants you a once in a career "gift" which is through you conferred upon your client. In short, it doesn't work like that.

    There are two ways which the demonstrated existence of a mental illness or disorder affecting an individual's ability to assist in his or her defense, or which may have rendered that individual unable to distinguish between right and wrong and to furthermore at the time of the commission of the offense have hindered or negated his or her ability to understand how his or her actions and/or omissions would have led as a consequence of those acts or omissions to the injury or harm suffered by the alleged victim of the alleged offense at issue. If the latter was the case, it may lead one to pursue a defense of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity or Lessened Mental Capacity (note that laws; burdens; standards and manners of proof all vary significantly from state to state. In the case of the former troubling situation, if an individual Defendant can not assist in the preparation and development of his or her defense, the Defendant, through his or her counsel, may wish to seek a declaration that he or she is unable to stand trial at the moment as a consequence of his or her lack of capacity, again, as it relates to the ability to assist counsel in any meangful way in formulating a defense.

    Note that in either instance, the remedy is not dismissal of the charges against the Defendant, irrespective of the severity of the mental illness or disorder at issue which is or at the time had impacted the Defendant and his or her actions; the restraint exerted as to same; his or perception of the causal relationship which may have existed between his or her actions and injury or harm which resulted

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  2. Typically to be determined to be incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity Requires the input of several medical professionals.
    Once those psychiatrist provide their opinion to the court they'll determine whether not the subject is mentally capable of assisting in his or her defense.
    Remember just because a person is found incompetent to stand trial doesn't mean they can't be made to stand trial in the future once they become competent.
    Without trying to provide you with medical advice but as an example there are many people who are charged with crimes that have similar diagnosis as you mentioned above i.e. bipolar, depressed et cetera.
    Having a mental diagnosis consistent with the above did not does not necessarily make you incompetent to stand trial.
    You need to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area to assist you with this question.


  3. Consult with a local attorney. Nearly every prisoner in DOC now has these types of maladies. They are very common and simply do not always lead to a dropping of the charges. Indeed, the court system has a way of completely ignoring these matters, unless complete psych evaluations and drug evaluations are done, by a number of medical professionals. It is not cheap to have this done. I once had a client who was diagnosed as a cleptomaniac. I somehow kept her out of prison because my argument was that stacking punishment in DUI helps to protect the public, stacking in theft does not. We cannnot, for instance, stack cocaine convictions, because it is an illness, and I simply applied that reasoning in her case. She had already been to prison for 22 months on a previous charge of petit theft. That's right, petit theft convictions are stacked to arrive at felony sentences in prison. Mental disorders abound but do not always get the treatment deserved. Actually not appreciating the difference between right and wrong at the time of the offense is very rare. A vast majority of prisoners across the county are in because the crime was directly related to drugs or alcohol, and most of them have mental disorders too, which have largely been ignored, and frequently cannot and will not form the basis for a dismissal.

    R. Jason de Groot, Esq., 386-337-8239

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