Area of Law: Criminal Law
Answer # 1871
Role of criminal defence lawyers experienced with mental health or addiction issuesRegion: Ontario Answer # 1871
Many people who are charged with a criminal offence are experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues. The client, and their families, are often in crisis, and are crying out for help from professionals. In many cases, the appropriate treatment can help to reduce the criminal penalty, or even result in the client not having a criminal conviction. However, if the client has been fingerprinted and photographed by the police they will still have some form of a criminal record that will need to be removed.
At a very early stage of the process, a criminal defence lawyer experienced in mental health and addiction issues has the ability to understand whether the client has a mental illness or addiction, and if so, how this has played a role in the commission of the offence.
If, after a careful review of the evidence, the lawyer determines that the case against the client can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the lawyer will discuss the possible motivation for the client committing the crime.
If mental illness or an addiction has contributed to the client’s behaviour, the lawyer will:
- obtain an assessment from a professional, usually a psychiatrist,
- arrange counselling, and then
- provide a report to the Crown attorney or the court.
This report will outline the link between the illness and the criminal behaviour, as well as provide a diagnosis and treatment. If the client successfully completes treatment, the report will most likely indicate that the client is less of a risk to the public, and will remain so as long as he or she remains committed to abstaining from substance abuse and/or continuing counselling and medication, if recommended.
An experienced criminal defence lawyer with expertise in dealing with mental health and/or addiction issues can:
- significantly reduce the impact criminal charges will have on the client and the client’s family,
- provide clients and their families with the tools to manage the mental illness and/or the addiction, and thereby
- give them hope for a brighter future.
If you have been charged with a crime, and need to hire a criminal defence lawyer, contact our preferred experts, The Criminal Law Team .
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