In order to be sent to jail or prison in California, you must be deemed mentally competent, the California Court of Appeals ruled recently. If you are mentally incompetent and cannot understand the charges being filed against you, you must first receive treatment to attempt to be deemed competent.
Recently, a defendant on trial for numerous sex crimes was determined to be mentally incompetent, and therefore unable to stand trial. Pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1370.1(b), if a person has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial, the trial must be suspended until the individual has attained mental competency. 1
The reason for this is because it violates a person’s constitutional rights to a fair trial if individuals cannot comprehend the charges being filed against them. The criminal case cannot continue until the defendant is deemed mentally competent.
Mentally Incompetent Defendant Spends Years in Jail
The California Court of Appeals recently decided a case involving a man who spent two years in county jail without receiving treatment for his mental incompetency.
Pursuant to the law, the defendant was recommended to the Porterville Developmental Center in the city of Porterville. It was determined that the Developmental Center was properly equipped for the individual’s mental needs, but he was rejected based on safety concerns.
The individual was then referred by the Department of Developmental Services to use an outside vendor who would provide him with mental help while he remained in county jail. However, this was not allowed under PC 1370.1, which states that an individual is required to be placed in a treatment center, not a county jail.
With no suitable place for the defendant to go and not other options, he remained in county jail.
The defendant spent two years in a county jail facility and did not receive the proper treatment throughout his incarceration. The treatment that he was not provided would have helped him attain competency and ultimately allowed him to resume his criminal trial.
How Did the Court of Appeal Rule?
The Court of Appeal held that the defendant’s rights to due process had been violated and granted his request for habeas corpus relief.
They explained that the defendant was kept in custody for two years without any treatment, which was unreasonable. Moreover, failing to comply with the statute, which required the defendant to be provided with treatment that would help his mental capacity and allow his criminal case to continue, was in violation of the law.
Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one has been unconstitutionally incarcerated without due process, you need to speak with an experienced attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been protecting the rights of defendants for over 30 years. We have experience dealing with a wide range of serious cases and we can help you obtain the best possible result in your case.
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