The Public Defender represents many people in a variety of mental health proceedings. Attorneys represent persons involuntarily committed to mental institutions, persons unable or unwilling to consent to needed medications, and persons under conservatorship. Attorneys advocate on behalf of clients who are in need of mental health treatment in the following specialty courts. Eligibility and suitability are determined by individualized assessment.
Veteran's Treatment Court
The Veteran’s Treatment Court was implemented on June 17, 2016 to address the needs of military men and women who are charged with selected felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses in Fresno County. This is a collaborative effort between the Superior Court, Public Defender, District Attorney, Probation and Veteran’s Administration Central California Health Care System (VA), along with numerous law enforcement, veteran social service, and community organizations in an intense twelve to eighteen-month rehabilitation program. Treatment is coordinated through the VA and includes ancillary services such as housing, education, and employment.
Behavioral Health Court
Behavioral Health Court is designed to deal with mentally ill offenders by pairing judicial oversight with community-based treatment plans. This specialty court is a collaboration between the Superior Court, Public Defender, District Attorney, Probation, and the Department of Behavioral Health. Participation in Behavioral Health Court is voluntary. The mission of the Behavioral Health Court is to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism of criminal defendants who suffer from serious mental illness by connecting them to community treatment services.
A Conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a Conservator for a person who is alleged to have a mental disability. A Conservatorship of the person is a protective relationship in which a Conservator is appointed by the court to act in the best interest of a gravely disabled individual to ensure that the basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter are met, and if required, to provide the disabled individual with psychiatric care and treatment. A "permanent LPS Conservatorship" lasts one year and is renewable if the appropriate criteria are met and legal procedures followed.
Mental Health Diversion Court
Mental Health Diversion court is eligible for some criminal defendants who suffer from certain mental disorders. Attorneys work with the Court to determine eligibility and suitability for this specialty court. This court handles proceedings pursuant to Penal Code Section 1001.36. Mental Health Diversion Fresno County
Misdemeanor incompetent to stand trial court is available for some defendants charged with misdemeanors who are not competent to stand trial. This collaborative court connects defendants with resources in the community to address mental health concerns. This court handles proceedings pursuant to Penal Code Section 1370.01.