The Role of Mental Health in Criminal Defense Cases

In some cases in St. Louis and elsewhere throughout Missouri, there is no criminal intent on your part. Instead, mental issues – like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, just to name a few – might have contributed to the cause of the crime. A highly skilled St. Louis criminal defense attorney can help by providing insight about your rights and options when charged with a crime related to any mental illness symptoms.

If you have a mental illness, or the symptoms of one, and have been arrested and/or charged with a crime, call Combs Waterkotte immediately at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online. Our legal team is dedicated to offering the best representation and comprehensive legal guidance to individuals with mental health disorders in their St. Louis criminal cases. We investigate every aspect of your unique situation thoroughly and determine whether you can use your mental health disorder as a legal defense in your case.

The impact of mental health on your actions, intentions, and decision-making capabilities is crucial in determining your culpability and potential defenses. Recognizing the presence of a mental health issue is vital for our defense lawyers in building a strong defense strategy. In addition to our experienced, knowledgeable, and tenacious criminal defense team, we have a network of expert medical professionals in St. Louis and throughout Missouri.

Understanding Mental Health Conditions

Mental health conditions can significantly affect your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Any of the following conditions may impact your ability to think clearly, exercise judgment, or control impulses. It is important to have an attorney on your side who knows the impact and importance of mental health. Call us today at (314) 900-HELP or reach out to us online. Some examples of mental health conditions are:

You might experience the symptoms of any of these mental health conditions at different levels – mild, moderate, or severe – and at varying times. Unfortunately, certain conditions can spur an individual to commit a crime. A reliable St. Louis attorney at Combs Waterkotte can review the facts of your case and protect you and your future.

Mental Health as a Defense

In some cases, mental health conditions can lead to diminished capacity, meaning that an individual’s mental state at the time of an offense may have impaired their ability to understand the nature of their actions or distinguish between right and wrong. Our St. Louis lawyers can use diminished capacity as a defense to reduce the degree of responsibility or mitigate penalties.

The insanity defense, under Missouri Revised Statutes § 552.020, asserts that “a person is not responsible for criminal conduct if, at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or defect such person was incapable of knowing and appreciating the nature, quality, or wrongfulness of such person’s conduct.” Missouri uses a modified version of the M’Naghten Rule to test for legal insanity, whereas the burden of proof is on the defendant.

Mental health can also be relevant to an individual’s competence to stand trial in St. Louis or elsewhere throughout Missouri. Also under RSMo § 552.020, competency refers to your ability to understand the proceedings against you and to assist in your own defense. While the issue of competency relates to an individual’s state of mind during criminal proceedings, not during the actual commission of a crime, if you are found incompetent to stand trial, legal proceedings may be temporarily suspended until competency is restored via treatment.

In some instances, our St. Louis lawyers have been successful providing alternative sentencing options – prioritizing treatment and rehabilitation over punishment. Diversion programs, mental health courts, or specialized treatment plans have been options for clients whose offenses are directly related to their mental health conditions. These approaches focus on addressing the underlying issues and reducing the likelihood of reoffending.

The Role of Mental Health in Criminal Defense Cases | Combs Waterkotte

The role of mental health in criminal defense cases cannot be underestimated. By recognizing the importance of mental health for our clients in St. Louis, Combs Waterkotte can strive for a more comprehensive and compassionate approach that considers the complexities and looks for appropriate resolutions.

Give Combs Waterkotte a call right away at St. Louis or contact us online.