AB 1810, a measure that was tucked into the Omnibus Health Trailer Budget Bill that California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed, has dangerous implications for every single citizen in the state. While the bill was passed with little vetting or input from the public, it has the power to change the way the justice system in the state works by allowing violent criminals to go free on flimsy evidence suggesting that these criminals may have a mental health condition that could respond to appropriate treatment.
AB 1810 states that a defendant who claims to suffer from a mental health issue can be granted a pre-trial diversion if a judge agrees that the defendant’s mental health conditions played a major role in the crime in question. The trial can be postponed for up to two years, during which time the defendant is required to obtain mental health treatment. If the defendant complies with the treatment program in question, the court would practically annul the charges against the defendant. The case would be thrown out of court and the court would be obligated to restrict the defendant’s arrest record so that the general public would not be able to obtain information about the person in question. Any defendant can ask for a mental health diversion, including murderers, child rapists, sex traffickers, kidnapers and mass shooters. There are no exceptions blocking certain people from applying for this form of specialized treatment.
What is more, the court is not allowed to consider a defendant’s past criminal record when deciding on a pre-trial diversion motion. To make matters worse, a defendant who applies for a pre-trial diversion can do so on the basis of a single psychiatric report that the prosecution will not even be allowed to rebut. Given these facts, it is no wonder that district attorneys throughout the state are furious over this new bill. In fact, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan went so far as to call the bill the most irresponsible piece of legislation the state of California has ever seen.
It is not hard to see why legal experts and concerned citizens in California are up in arms about the bill. Literally any criminal could walk free with no criminal record by simply stating that he or she has mental health issues. Flimsy conditions can serve as an excuse to get charges thrown out of court, including depression, schizophrenia, paraphilia, bi-polar disorder and anxiety disorders.
There does not appear to be any stipulation in the bill that would prohibit the same criminal from using the mental health excuse more than once. California’s District Attorney Association is attempting to limit the damage that could be done by this bill by negotiating with the governor to sign an amendment that would ban defendants who have been accused of dangerous crimes such as murder and rape from participating. However, the proposal does not fully limit the damage that AB1810 will wreak on the state’s justice system.
California’s AB1810 bill has the potential to cause a drastic increase in crime throughout the state as first time and repeat offenders alike will have an easy to use loophole that would enable them to walk free from jail with no criminal record. These offenders will in many cases continue to have easy access to potential victims as law enforcement officials and members of the general public will not have access to the offender’s record.
How and why such a bill could pass in any state is beyond comprehension. While many criminals do have mental health problems that need to be addressed, there are ways and means of addressing them that do not put members of the general public in continual danger. AB1810 strips away important safeguards by not allowing judges to weigh up a psychiatrist’s report against other evidence when deciding on a defendant’s fate. It takes away a prosecutor’s right to submit evidence, and does not take into account that even defendants with a valid mental health condition may pose a danger to others as they are allowed to roam free while obtaining treatment.
~ Conservative Zone