Our friends at JLongtin Law have provided this useful list of what you need to know when your loved one is arrested: 10 Ways to Help Through the Criminal Process
Support Your Relative
- If your family member/friend calls you and says that he/she has been arrested, help him/her stay calm and offer your help and support.
- If your family member/friend is being held in a city jail, remind him/her of the right to have an attorney present if being questioned by police officers or detectives.
- He/She will be screened for mental illness, as well as other health concerns, upon arrival. It is very important that they be direct and honest to benefit as much as possible from this screening process. Assure your family member that it is OK to discuss his/her physical and mental condition, diagnosis, medications, etc., with the staff conducting the screening, which includes Sheriff’s nursing staff and Jail Mental Health Service staff. It is important your family member feels safe to speak openly with the mental health screeners.
Criminal Justice Resources
NAMI Colorado Law Line
The NAMI Colorado Law Line provides free, confidential legal advice and consultation by licensed Colorado attorneys. Call 303-321-3104.
The Consensus Project is a project of the Criminal Justice/Mental Health Information Network coordinated by the Council of State Governments Justice Center. It is an unprecedented, national effort to help local, state, and federal policymakers and criminal justice and mental health professionals improve the response to people with mental illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system.
The landmark Consensus Project Report, which was written by Justice Center staff and representatives of leading criminal justice and mental health organizations, was released in June 2002. Since then, Justice Center staff working on the Consensus Project have supported the implementation of practical, flexible criminal justice/mental health strategies through on-site technical assistance; the dissemination of information about programs, research, and policy developments in the field; continued development of policy recommendations; and educational presentations.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Information Network
The Criminal Justice/Mental Health Information Network (InfoNet) builds and expands on previous efforts to collect program information as a resource for policymakers, practitioners, and advocates working to improve outcomes when people with mental illnesses come into contact with the criminal justice system.
Evidenced-Based Practices: Shaping Mental Health Services Toward Recovery
The goal of Assertive Community Treatment is to help people stay out of the hospital and to develop skills for living in the community, so that their mental illness is not the driving force in their lives. Assertive community treatment offers services that are customized to the individual needs of the consumer, delivered by a team of practitioners, and available 24 hours a day. This link to the SAMHSA Evidenced-Based Practices page provides a number of documents that will help to implement an Assertive Community Treatment program.
Hiring a Lawyer
You may have a legal problem and not know how to resolve it. Lawyers have been specially trained in the law and our legal system. And the right lawyer can advise and assist you with your particular problem.
If you are facing criminal charges or a lawsuit, for example, a lawyer can help you understand your rights, and the strengths and weaknesses of your case. A lawyer knows the rules and procedures for arguing the case in court. And a lawyer can make a big difference in whether or not your side of the story is successfully presented to a judge or jury.
A lawyer can help you get a divorce, file for bankruptcy or draw up a will. Or, if you have been seriously injured or mistreated, a lawyer can help you file a lawsuit. Some lawyers handle a variety of legal problems; others specialize in certain areas of the law.
In some instances, failing to call a lawyer immediately can make the situation worse. If you are arrested or involved in a serious auto accident, for example, someone should interview the witnesses and gather evidence as soon as possible.
In other situations, preventive legal advice could save you time, trouble and money by preventing legal problems before they arise. Take, for example, the purchase of your family home or car. You might have a problem in the future if you sign the purchase agreement without completely understanding it. Or maybe you are launching a business with a partner. A lawyer could point out the advantages and drawbacks of various partnership arrangements.
These are just a few of the many situations in which lawyers can provide advice and assistance.
Legal Definitions are provided for public use and knowledge.
US Legal, Inc provides legal information in the form of Questions & Answers, Definitions, Articles, Blogs and Reporting on various subjects in the United States legal field. You can also find an attorney or buy legal forms for Pro Se representation. US Legal seeks to simplify and break down the barriers to legal information. Click here.
Nolo is the nation’s oldest and most respected provider of legal information for consumers and small businesses. This listing takes you to the Nolo glossary of legal terms.
Mental Health Courts
Mental health courts have spread rapidly across the country in the few years since their emergence. In the late 1990s only a handful of such courts were in operation; as of 2007, there were more than 175 in both large and small jurisdictions. The links on this page address a series of commonly asked questions about mental health courts. Click here.
Here are additional resources supporting decriminalization of mental illness:
Why are the mentally ill being swept into the criminal justice system?
In 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed Senate bills 222 & 223 that “direct a subcommittee of the Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force…to reform Colorado’s fractured behavioral health care system.” (Fleming 11/23/19) These two new laws are intended to address competency issues as well as “some of the much deeper problems that have swept these (mentally ill) people up in the criminal justice system.” (Fleming 7/22/19)
Both quotes are written in articles by Sara Fleming for the Westword 2019.
- Program Will Help Divert Mentally Ill People from Jail
- Changes to Help Those “Lost in the System” Because of Mental Illness
Civil Action Case 1:11-CV-02285-NYW. For those with mental illness who are detained in jail for more than 21 days and have not received competency and evaluation services, there are Colorado fines daily. These fines pertain to each Pretrial Detainee beginning July 1, 2020 according to the Civil Action Case filed by the Center for Legal Advocacy/Disability Law Colorado on March 15, 2019.
Decriminalization of Mental Illness: Fixing a Broken System policy paper:2016-2017-Decriminalization-of-Mental-Illness-Fixing-a-Broken-System
Community Recommendations for Legal Assistance
These resources have been recommended by individuals in our community and are NOT endorsed by NAMI Boulder County. Please use your own judgement when evaluating their services. We do not add providers who request to have their own information added to our website; providers must be recommended by NAMI participants.
- JLongtin Law – https://www.jlongtinlaw.com/. Mental health issues are an important part of many criminal cases. At JLongtin Law, we know that everyone deserves a zealous defense, especially those in a vulnerable state because of their physical conditions or past traumatic experiences.
- Attorney Jeff Kass – www.thekassgroup.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-518-9905 mobile. Investigates civil and criminal court cases, locates public records, staff reporters for underrepresented voices.
- Attorney Craig Silverman – https://www.springersteinberg.com/attorneys/craig-silverman/, 303-861-2800. Lawyer and member of the media; mission includes representing the mentally ill in the justice system and fixing the broken system of criminalization of the mentally ill.