Frequently in my cases, I represent clients who have mental health issues. Bring this to the attention of the court or the clerk magistrate can often be helpful. For clients with little or no record it can be extremely persuasive to a clerk magistrate it this essentially is a medical issue. The client takes the situation seriously, they have gone to a therapist and or gotten some treatment and changed their prescription.
I believe that almost everyone in the court system wants to do the right thing. Unfortunately, I say it’s usually about Fifth on the list. If we can give a clerk magistrate or judge a reason to cut you a break they often will, but we want to do two things one is I want to persuade them that the risk is low because you’re dealing with your issues and they will be some consequences either on probation or the case will be dismissed for six months until you do some treatment.
It can actually be much easier for a judge or magistrate to cut you a break if there is a documented medical or mental health issue. They may think if I do give this person a break and they cause a problem later on, at least there is something to file that says they were seeking treatment and I had a good justification for my decision.
Mental Health and Auto Accident Charges: Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or Operating to Endanger
An accident can be the result of stress before or after the fact.
Sometimes an accident can result from a medical or mental health incident. It could be a moment of stress or panic or a medication issue that causes you to temporarily lose the ability to control your vehicle, causing an accident resulting in an Operating to Endanger or Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle criminal charge.
A minor accident can even be the cause of a major stress incident, resulting in a poor decision. Maybe you hit another car, panicked, and didn’t know what to do, so you left. Maybe the loss of vehicle control caused your adrenaline to spike, and you weren’t even sure you hit anything until you got home and calmed down.
These things happen all the time. No one is used to the stressful experience of a car accident or near-miss.
It is absolutely understandable if your freaked out, weren’t sure what happened, and made a bad decision after an accident that resulted in a criminal citation.
Mental Health and Shoplifting Charges.
I’ve represented many, many clients who made a poor impulsive decision and took something from a store without paying. Many clients with anxiety and depression who are taking medication get in situations like this where they make decisions they can’t even believe happened.
The common factor is they are almost always deeply ashamed and upset about being caught shoplifting.
I will frequently bring this up at a clerk magistrate’s hearing, and almost always the clerk will let the charge go.
In fact, I’ve never lost at a shoplifting hearing.
Clerk Magistrate’s can see the terrible mortification in my client’s eyes and know that a shoplifting/larceny incident like this will almost certainly never happen again. It’s an issue best left to the client and their therapist, not the courts.
Your Mental Health While Waiting for a Hearing or a Decision.
A big part of my job as a lawyer is keeping my clients calm, and managing expectations in uncertain situations.
You are often:
- Waiting to hear back from the courts on a hearing date for a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing.
- Waiting to hear from police on a decision to issue a citation
- Waiting to hear back from your insurance company about another person’s accident claim against you in a hit and run
Of course it’s immensely stressful to be waiting when you or a loved one is facing theoretical jail time (even though that is extremely unlikely with most minor charges) loss of license, or other major consequences or disruptions to your life.
After telling my clients what to expect, and what is out of their control, I often encourage them to take a walk, meditate, spend time with family and friends; anything to calm and distract you from the situation you are facing. It helps!