I have a mental health issue and I’ve been charged with a crime. What are my options?

3. Understand how mental health affects sentencing

If your mental health contributed to you committing a crime, you may be able to get a lower . That's because your mental health issues can mean that you are less morally responsible for a crime.

To get a lower sentence for mental health reasons, you need to show the judge how your mental health is connected to the crime. It's important to tell your lawyer about your mental health issues so they can make the right legal arguments for you.

Get a diagnosis

If you don't have a medical diagnosis for your mental health condition, your lawyer might suggest that you see a doctor. A doctor can figure out if you can be diagnosed with an official mental health condition or disorder. Having a diagnosis might help you get a lower sentence.

If the judge thinks they don't have enough information about your mental health, they can order a mental health assessment of you. A mental health assessment is a medical report written by a psychiatrist, who is a doctor that is an expert in mental health. In the report, the doctor will give the judge information about your personal background and your medical history. The report can also include the doctor's opinion about your diagnosis.

Letters of support

If you're already connected to community resources, your lawyer might get letters from your social worker or doctor that confirm you have a mental illness. The letters explain the resources you use or programs you attend. These letters of support can also help you to get a lower sentence at your sentencing .

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