Florida law provides that a mental health disorder that requires specialized treatment is a mitigating factor in determining a judicial sentence. Such an argument can often be made when asking a judge for a downward departure sentence, or a sentence that is below the accused's sentencing guidelines.
Many of our family members suffer from mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder, manic depression, and forms of psychosis. Sometimes, these disorders cause people to do things that they wouldn't normally do but for the disorder.
Mental health disorders are exactly that - disorders. They are diseases of the mind. Somebody who suffers from such a disease should not be treated as a criminal. Unfortunately, they are.
I do battle nearly everyday with zealous prosecutors who don't care that my client may be suffering from a mental illness, but rather that they are accused of a crime. Fortunately for my clients, the Florida Legislature provided for statutory mitigation should a defendant suffer from a recognized mental illness that requires treatment.
The first step to mitigation is getting the client evaluated. I am fortunate to have wonderful, reputable mental health professionals in my network. If the family of the client cannot afford the cost of the evaluation (on top of my legal fees), I can file a specialized motion with the court asking that the State of Florida pay for the evaluation. This motion is routinely granted.
Upon getting my client evaluated, I then submit the evaluation to the State Attorney's Office, as well as the court. If the State Attorney's Office agrees that my client suffers from a mental illness, they may agree to a resolution of the case that involves treatment rather than jail or prison. If the State does not agree, Florida law permits the judge to impose a downward departure sentence provided no mandatory minimum sentences apply to the client's charge(s).
Even if the client has career criminal enhancements that include mandatory sentences, such as an HVO (Habitual Violent Offender) or PRRP (Prison Releasee Reoffender) designation, I can still have the client evaluated. The State Attorney's Office may agree to a mental health resolution, where the client may serve time in a mental health facility, or may receive treatment as a condition of probation.
I have been very successful in getting my clients treatment when the State Attorney's Office wanted prison. Not only do these resolutions help my clients get the best legal outcomes to their cases, it permits them to get the treatment that they need so they will not find themselves in trouble with the law again.
I practice criminal defense exclusively and serve the Miami-Dade and Broward areas. I am a former Miami-Dade prosecutor with extensive experience, both on the prosecution and defense sides, in dealing with mental health issues in criminal cases.
Mental illness touches all people from all walks of life. It may be in your immediate family or your extended family. In this day and age, we all know and love somebody who suffers from a mental illness, be it mild or severe.
Mental illness is not a crime! It is a disease that requires specialized treatment. Don't let overzealous prosecutors try and send your mentally ill loved one to state prison. Let me help.
Call me today to discuss your matter privately and free of charge.