Dedicated Texas Criminal Defender

How mental health challenges can impact someone’s criminal case

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2024 | Criminal defense

People get arrested in Texas every day for a variety of criminal actions. Some people get arrested for intimidating or threatening others, while others face accusations of drug or property crimes. Many arrests leave people frightened about the future.

A surprising percentage of those accused of breaking Texas state law choose to plead guilty even when they assert that they are innocent or when there are extenuating circumstances that may limit their criminal culpability for the situation. Occasionally, the mental health challenges experienced by the defendant could affect what happens during their criminal case.

A defendant can potentially raise an affirmative defense

Provided that someone has serious mental health challenges, they may be able to mount an affirmative defense when accused of criminal activity. Instead of proving that they did not break the law, they prove that they were technically not in violation of the law due to specific factors.

A claim of insanity is one of the more common affirmative defense strategies. People attempt to prove that either a long-term mental health challenge or an intense experience compromised their ability to think rationally and make appropriate decisions. An insanity defense strategy could lead to someone serving a sentence in a mental health facility instead of a prison or completely avoiding incarceration because the state cannot justify their prosecution. Someone who cannot rationally may not be responsible for their actions under current Texas law.

A defendant may qualify for alternative adjudication

There is a strong association between addiction, which is a mental health challenge, and certain kinds of criminal activity. People struggling with addiction make choices that they typically would not. For example, Texas does offer drug court proceedings as an alternative to traditional criminal trials in certain scenarios. If someone can demonstrate that their criminal offense is related to a substance abuse disorder, they might be able to avoid traditional prosecution and the penalties that it carries by seeking drug court proceedings instead of a traditional trial.

Defendants who believe that their mental health challenges could affect their defense options may need assistance reviewing the case against them. Seeking drug court proceedings or entering an insanity plea could both be effective strategies in certain circumstances.