The mental health unit consists of experienced attorneys dedicated to the defense of individuals with mental health disabilities. These attorneys advocate for clients in all stages of civil commitment proceedings from involuntary medication hearings to petitions to extend an individual’s commitment to a state hospital. Our mental health unit represents individuals committed to the hospital after an NGI (not guilty by reason of insanity) finding and individuals committed as either a mentally disordered offender (MDO) or mentally disordered sex offender (MDSO). We also represent individuals alleged to be dangerous as a result of a mental illness (Murphy Conservatorship) and those alleged to be dangerous as a result of an intellectual or developmental disability (6500 Conservatorship).
Additionally, our unit advocates for mental health patients who are held involuntarily at a hospital or other mental health treatment facility under the Laterman-Petris Short (LPS) act. This advocacy begins from the time a person is admitted on an involuntary hold and extends through all conservatorship proceedings.
If an individual with a mental illness or intellectual disability has a criminal case, the court may find the individual incompetent to stand trial and suspend criminal proceedings. In these cases, our unit advocates for these individuals to receive treatment as quickly as possible.
In 2016 Contra Costa County began an Assisted Outpatient Treatment program (AOT or Laura's Law). While many clients participate in AOT voluntarily, those who do not participate are brought to court on a civil petition. We represent these individuals during all resulting court proceedings.
Navigating the court system can be stressful and challenging for both the committed individual as well as for his or her family and friends. Our unit is dedicated to safeguarding the rights of our most vulnerable clients and ensuring that they have a voice in the courtroom. While we welcome information from loved ones, it is important to note that we represent the wishes of the committed individual, not the family. Family can assist the attorney by providing information regarding the individual’s medical, psychiatric, social, and educational history.
For information about support groups, educational programs, and mental health treatment you may contact:
Contra Costa County mental health access line – 1-888-678-7277
Contra Costa County Crisis and Suicide Hotline – 1-800-833-2900