Mental Health Court is a pretrial diversion program based on the philosophy that a centralized mental health program that utilizes available community resources and support systems will increase the efficiency of the criminal court by creating an environment that is conducive to mental health treatment and wellnesst, while insuring the safety of the public at large.
An eligible Mental Health Court candidate must be diagnosed with a mental illness or a developmental disability and arrested for misdemeanor or criminal traffic offenses, with the exception of those charged with domestic violence, driving under the influence, and sexual offenses. However, defendants charged with domestic violence involving parents and children or siblings may be accepted into the program with the approval of the Court. Defendants charged with simple battery may be admitted with the victim's consent. Mental Health Court may also hear cases in which a defendant is charged with a violation of county court probation with the consent of the county court judge to whom the case is assigned.
Defendants accepted into Mental Health Court will attend weekly court hearings as ordered by the Court, based on each defendant’s needs. After the defendant’s acceptance into the Program, the defendant will participate in continued assessment and treatment and engage in discharge planning. The defendant’s participation will end upon the successful completion of the discharge plan. The charges will then be dismissed by the State Attorney or the violation of probation will be dismissed by the Mental Health Court judge.
Referrals into the program my be made sua sponte by any Court, by Court Services, by the Forensic Programs Director at the Alachua County Jail, the State Attorney, the defense attorney, law enforcement, mental health providers, or any other interested person.