The Public Defender represents many people in a variety of mental health proceedings. Attorneys represent persons involuntarily committed to mental institutions, persons unable or unwilling to consent to needed medications, and persons under conservatorship.
Veteran's Treatment Court
The Veteran’s Treatment Court was implemented on June 17, 2016 to address the needs of military men and women who are charged with selected felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses in Fresno County. This is a collaborative effort between the Superior Court, Public Defender, District Attorney, Probation and Veteran’s Administration Central California Health Care System (VA), along with numerous law enforcement, veteran social service, and community organizations in an intense twelve to eighteen-month rehabilitation program. Treatment is coordinated through the VA and includes ancillary services such as housing, education, and employment.
Behavioral Health Court
Behavioral health courts are a relatively new form of diversionary courts designed to deal with mentally ill offenders by pairing judicial oversight with community-based treatment plans. This specialty court is a collaboration between the Superior Court, Public Defender, District Attorney, Probation, and the Department of Behavioral Health. Participation in a mental health court is voluntary. The mission of the Behavioral Health Court is to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism of criminal defendants who suffer from serious mental illness by connecting them to community treatment services.
Drug Treatment Court
The Misdemeanor Drug Court became operational on September 14, 2015 in response to the passage of Prop 47. The Drug Court employs a non-adversarial, collaborative approach and offers an alternative to incarceration to those charged with a drug offense and dealing with drug abuse issues. National and local studies have consistently found drug courts to generate cost savings for the criminal justice system, decrease recidivism, and, most importantly, help participants return to a productive life.
A Conservatorship is a court proceeding to appoint a manager for a person who is alleged to have a mental disability. A Conservatorship of the person is a protective relationship in which a person is appointed by the court to act in the best interest of a gravely disabled individual to ensure that the basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter are met, and if required, to provide the disabled individual with psychiatric care and treatment. A "permanent LPS Conservatorship" lasts one year and is renewable if the appropriate criteria are met and legal procedures followed.