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Florida Legal Information Topics, Discussions and Information relating to Legal Information specific to Florida. This information is *NOT PROFESSIONAL* and should always be fact-checked!

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  #1  
Old 10-11-2012, 12:47 PM
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Default Incompetent To Stand Trial Florida

My daughter was in court yesterday because her PD filed a motion to find her incompetent to stand trial. She has already been examined by a well known local psychiatrist respected by both defense attorneys and prosecutors and found to be suffering with multiple serious mental illnesses. The judge declined to rule on the motion and the defense attorney cancelled a upcoming hearing to determine is she is incompetent. Should I start getting concerned? Would serious mental illness would be used to mitigate any potential prison sentence?
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:42 PM
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My daughter was in court yesterday because her PD filed a motion to find her incompetent to stand trial. She has already been examined by a well known local psychiatrist respected by both defense attorneys and prosecutors and found to be suffering with multiple serious mental illnesses. The judge declined to rule on the motion and the defense attorney cancelled a upcoming hearing to determine is she is incompetent. Should I start getting concerned? Would serious mental illness would be used to mitigate any potential prison sentence?
Mental illness can be both an aggravating AND a mitigating factor. On teh one hand mental illness can make a defendant scary, especially if there's a history of violent crime and not taking meds. The illness can make it likely the defendant will reoffend. On the other hand the ill defendant might be misbehaving for a correctable reason, and it's different (in a good way) when compared to a case where a defendant misbehaves because thy like to hurt people. Knowing how to present mental illness as mitigation is an art and requires local knowledge of the judge's and DA's previous sentencing history.
Mental illness can also be a defense. It takes a very special kind of illness to be Not Guilty by Reason of insanity. (Standards vary by State, but most use either an inability to know right from wrong and/or an inability to understand the nature of actions.) It can also be a "diminished actuality" defense, where there is an inability to form a certain kind of required specific intent.
There is a procedure to be followed before a defendant is declared incompetent. The 1st step is a Dr.'s findings. Then, there is a right to hearing or jury trial (absent a stipulation by all parties). Finally there is a hospitalization, until the defendant is restored to trial competency. Once restored, the defendant returns to court and the case resumes. There is also a procedure to handle the rare defendant who can never be restored to competency, where they can permanently remain hospitalized.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:05 PM
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Her more serious mental illnesses were not diagnosed until she was in jail. She was in counselling for PTSD, depression and dealing with her past. When she was in our home, we knew something was wrong, but no one would listen to us. I told the prosecutors that she is a walking mental institution and I was not trying to be funny. From my conversations visiting her in jail and her letters, its doubtful she will ever be able to be self sufficient.
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Old 10-27-2012, 08:41 AM
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I'm in the same situation. My hubby's judge denied his mitigation for downward departure for mental health. At the hearing a forensic psychiatrist testified his PTSD, BiPolar , sever depression he has dual diagnosis and will not be able to get that specialized treatment in prison. Besides the fact he has had 4 suicide attempts. The judge said that he acknowledges his disorder and needs help but he wasn't going to help him and denied the motion. When we said we would appeal judge said he can't or the 5 yr offer from the state is off and it's 15 yrs mandatory .... This is crazy my hubby is now in SFRC. And we need to appeal this is not right... He needs help. We need to speak up for this
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Old 10-27-2012, 10:21 AM
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I would talk to a attorney or his PD. Based on the information here, this case should be appealed. To the best I understand Florida law, unless your husband was not taking his meds or not following a treatment plan for his illness, these mental issues must be considered as mitigating factors. The sad fact is that inmates with mental illnesses get very little in the way of therapy while being incarcerated. They are lucky to even get meds for their illness.


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Originally Posted by ms. pulga View Post
I'm in the same situation. My hubby's judge denied his mitigation for downward departure for mental health. At the hearing a forensic psychiatrist testified his PTSD, BiPolar , sever depression he has dual diagnosis and will not be able to get that specialized treatment in prison. Besides the fact he has had 4 suicide attempts. The judge said that he acknowledges his disorder and needs help but he wasn't going to help him and denied the motion. When we said we would appeal judge said he can't or the 5 yr offer from the state is off and it's 15 yrs mandatory .... This is crazy my hubby is now in SFRC. And we need to appeal this is not right... He needs help. We need to speak up for this
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Old 10-27-2012, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ms. pulga View Post
I'm in the same situation. My hubby's judge denied his mitigation for downward departure for mental health. At the hearing a forensic psychiatrist testified his PTSD, BiPolar , sever depression he has dual diagnosis and will not be able to get that specialized treatment in prison. Besides the fact he has had 4 suicide attempts. The judge said that he acknowledges his disorder and needs help but he wasn't going to help him and denied the motion. When we said we would appeal judge said he can't or the 5 yr offer from the state is off and it's 15 yrs mandatory .... This is crazy my hubby is now in SFRC. And we need to appeal this is not right... He needs help. We need to speak up for this
The judge was right...in Florida when you accept a plea you waive your right to appeal except under very specific circumstances, such as inadequate counsel, and that has to be filed basically immediately after sentencing (within 30 days).

The sad fact is that many, many people with mental illnesses are caught up in the criminal justice system. It's one of the major reasons that people end up in prison. If they let people off for having a mental illness, the prisons would be empty.

I'm not unsympathetic - my husband's anxiety disorder is the reason he's where he is, and he sure as heck isn't getting any help for it in there. If anything, this experience is making it worse because of the stress and psychological trauma. I just recognize that since nearly everyone in the system qualifies for a diagnosis of some kind, it's unrealistic to expect the system to give those people a pass for their crimes. Especially since the goal of the criminal justice system (no matter what they give lip service to) is to punish, period. They don't care that you can't get treatment for mental health problems in custody because they aren't interested in rehabilitating people. They just want "tough on crime" soundbites about how many people they've locked up for how long.
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