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Mental health is not a dirty word says Fairfax criminal lawyer

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Mental health is not a dirty word says Fairfax criminal lawyer- Image of mind

Mental health is critical for defense lawyers to address, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Mental health (MH) issues are no longer the scarlet letter that was able to cause more harm than now to people’s careers and reputations decades ago. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I have dealt with hundreds of clients with MH issues running from ADHD to severe depression to bipolar to delusional. As with all other aspects of my defending my clients, I never judge my clients, but instead fully defend them. I repeat, I never judge my clients about anything, not about their alleged nor actual actions, not about ideas they have for their defenses that at first do not seem to make sense, and not about any misperception about police, prosecutors and others in the criminal justice system out to get them for them versus than for their alleged law violation. The importance of Virginia criminal defense lawyers to consider and address their clients’ MH issues is underlined well by a sign at the entrance to a courthouse near northern Virginia, which encourages people to be kind to others, as we do not know what they are going through. I of course wish that all judges, prosecutors and police officers practiced such a path with criminal suspects and criminal defendants.

How do I find a Virginia criminal lawyer who will be understanding about my mental health issues and will help find and work with psychological and health care professionals?

Ask your potential Virginia criminal lawyer about their experience dealing with mental health issues, if those affect you and/or your case. By now, I have worked with MH professionals in hundreds of criminal defense cases, running from obtaining prognoses of the accused’s prospects not in the future to commit similar criminal activity to the one alleged, obtaining and reviewing my clients’ MH evaluations, talking with psychologists and licensed clinical social workers about their evaluations and treatment of my clients and about their testimony for pretrial release hearings and sentencing proceedings, to myself getting a grasp of my client’s situation so that I may put that into persuasive context in defending my client. I welcome working closely with MH professionals and with you not only to help explain how MH issues help explain your actions on the incident date (even if those actions do not make you guilty), but also how addressing your MH situation will help assure that you will not in the future commit the same type of crime for which you are currently accused, as well as to help you alleviate any current distress you are experiencing from being prosecuted.

Should I hide my MH issues from my Virginia criminal lawyer?

Do not hide your mental health issues from your lawyer. For your lawyer to fully and successfully defend you, your lawyer needs to know you as a person, including any MH issues. If your lawyer does not want to know you as a person, think twice about that deficit. Probably nobody exists who at one time or another — at the very least — did not experience at least mild depression, anxiety, fear or psychological pain. When my clients reveal that about themselves, I am able to integrate that into my defense of them (of course not disclosing what they do not want disclosed) and can help direct them in the right direction for getting help, which does not only have to involve MH professionals but can also involve self help. I am among the lawyers who have been involved in the lawyers mindfulness movement. In just a minute, I can show my clients how to engage in mindfulness and can provide them some great videos and book titles for further engaging on this path.

What if my Virginia criminal lawyer flinches when I share my mental health challenges with my attorney?

If your Virginia criminal lawyer is not open, engaging, compassionate, caring and understanding about your mental health challenges, do not ignore that, and address it early on. Attorneys have different levels of comfort, knowledge and experience dealing with MH issues. Fortunately for me, I started dealing with clients’ MH issues soon after I became a public defender lawyer in the early 1990’s. I remember one of my first clients who was delusional, talking as if I was not even present, and saying at one point “one left shoe, one right shoe” and soon after “we love you very much and will see you soon.” I saw him again around a year later and he was totally lucid. When I remarked on the change, he told me he was off his medication when I first met him, but was not back on medication. People need to be aware of side effects of medicine, but also need to know the benefits of the right medical regimen as well.