California Prosecutors Want to Scale Back AB 1810

California prosecutors are not happy with AB 1810 and are negotiating with Gov. Jerry Brown to try and scale back the new law.

You may have heard by now that this new assembly bill that Gov. Brown signed last month allows criminals, even those who commit serious or violent felonies, to claim they have a treatable mental disorder in order to be excused of their crimes.  

With this new law, judges can dismiss charges against suspects who successfully complete programs assigned to them for their treatment and can get their charges dismissed if the judge is satisfied the offender is unlikely to commit a new felony. 

The suspects will be sent to medical treatment centers before they reach the criminal process and will claim they are incompetent to stand trial,

However, prosecutors say the law "lets defense attorneys seek diversion of those charged with almost any crime, with few safeguards."

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan called it "a dangerous social experiment."

"There is hardly a serious or violent felony offense where a criminal defense attorney would not make the case that his or her client should undergo a mental health evaluation," she said.

Prosecutors want to change the program so that the law only limits to those charged with misdemeanors or non-serious, nonviolent felonies.

Leading the negotiation effort is El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson who said the "California District Attorneys Association supports allowing diversion for more crimes if it doesn't endanger public safety."

"We want to see that the dangerous criminals are actually punished and held accountable," he said. "But we always want to see that the mentally ill are effectively treated so they do not continue to do life on the installment plan."

The rise in criminals deemed incompetent to stand trial is rising and there isn't enough room in treatment programs with more than 900 suspects on the wait list. 

The Department of State Hospitals claims one of every five criminal suspects might qualify under the new law to be diverted to treatment programs.

Pierson said "all the indications are positive that we're going to be able to work out something," in response to the negotiations. 

Photo: Getty Images

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