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Mental Health (Criminal) Court Process
Steps in the Mental Health (Criminal) Court Process
- A case is referred to Mental Health Court, upon agreement of both attorneys and the defendant.
- The Mental Health Court Screener completes a preliminary assessment.
- The Screener interviews defendant, determines if the defendant is currently receiving (or received in the past) services from Hennepin County, advises the judge and attorneys on the mental status of the defendant, and recommends a conditional release plan.
- Defendant is placed on conditional release by the judge and is supervised by Mental Health Court Screener or the Mental Health Court Probation Officer.
- If the defendant has a case manager, he or she is notified about the court proceedings and invited to attend all subsequent court hearings to provide input.
- If the defendant is eligible for services in Hennepin County, he or she is directly referred by the Mental Health Court Screener.
- The defendant appears for a series of conditional release judicial reviews to monitor compliance until the attorneys and judge feel that the case is ready for disposition.
- The disposition of a case depends on the nature of the case and the performance of the defendant.
Fully compliant defendants with minimal criminal histories receive "diversion." The case is continued for at least a year and then dismissed if the defendant complies with Mental Health Court conditions and has no additional criminal charges.
Less compliant defendants with greater criminal histories plead guilty. The plea may then be vacated and the charge dismissed after at least one year if the Mental Health Court conditions have been followed and there have been no additional criminal charges.
Some defendants have serious behavior problems and lengthy criminal histories. They plead guilty and are placed on supervised probation to the Mental Health Court Probation Officer. Workhouse time and other traditional correctional sanctions are used to gain compliance with Mental Health Court conditions.
After disposition of the case, defendants continue to appear in court for judicial reviews to monitor compliance with Mental Health Court conditions.
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