Mental Health Cases Require a Nuanced Approach
Winner of the 2017 Advocacy Leadership Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness | DeKalb
Legal dilemmas involving mental illness and the need for criminal defense demand an attorney who understands the struggles of the mentally ill. At The Gage Law Firm, we specialize in criminal and probate cases involving mental illness and have handled over 500 criminal cases involving mental health. We have years of professional and personal experience helping the mentally ill and their families navigate the complicated and archaic mental health legal system in Georgia. We can relate to our clients in a way that other legal professionals can't, as we have a broad understanding of most mental illnesses, the various medications used to treat them, and the resources available in the community. If you, or a loved one, is faced with an urgent legal matter involving mental illness, whether criminal or involving hospitalization, The Gage Law Firm can give you unique assistance you won't find in most other legal firms.
Both the individual and his or her support system must, first and foremost, dedicate themselves to understanding the condition for which they have been challenged. The "medication over all else" approach is rarely sustainable, and a solid understanding of one's challenge puts him or her in the driver seat for treatment. Conversations with psychiatrists and counselors become more fruitful and the individual feels more in control of his or her decisions, the way it should always be when approaching one's health. While medications are an important piece of treating many individuals' symptoms, educated involvement in that decision-making process leads to longer term management of and success over the challenge. Moreover, having a sense of pride in the work it takes to find that success is key to finding that elusive happiness and productivity.
To learn more about our philosophy and approach, watch the May 2016 Cobb County Neighborhood Safety Commission panel discussion on mental illness in the criminal justice system, during which attorney S. Derek Gage participated as a panel expert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnucC3Zqtjk.
Criminal Law and the Mentally Ill
Accusations against a person with a mental illness require a broad, educated, and personal understanding of the struggles of the mentally ill and how they intersect with the criminal justice system. Symptoms of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, manic depression, major depressive disorder and other illnesses can often be mistaken as criminal acts by law enforcement, and a lawyer with a keen understanding of mental illness can be a powerful weapon against these misguided criminal accusations. Having handled over 500 criminal cases involving mental illness, The Gage Law Firm has the experience and reputation in the legal community of providing effective and caring representation of the mentally ill who have been accused of committing crimes.
The Gage Law Firm has had years of experience dealing specifically with cases involving mental illness and providing seasoned representation. Not only will our attorneys provide you or your loved one with an aggressive legal defense, but also with a caring, knowledgeable, and personal touch that comes from our familiarity with illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and how they affect a client and his or her family. A member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, our firm is well-connected with mental health resources in the community and stays up-to-date with the latest developments in the law.
There are many considerations a client and his or her family must take into account in criminal cases involving mental illness. First and foremost, our team is dedicated to working hard and to the best of our abilities under the circumstances to secure the release of you or your loved one in the event that they are incarcerated. This often involves securing treatment for our clients' mental illnesses in the community, a prospect that requires a vast knowledge of doctors and providers. Also, in the event certain defenses involving mental illness are needed in your case, your attorney must be extraordinarily proactive in preserving evidence and obtaining the medical records and experts necessary to provide a strong defense in your criminal case. The Gage Law Firm has the experience and education to make sure that all of the special nuances of a mental health case are addressed, and you can feel confident that you have an attorney who understands what you or your loved one are going through.
The Gage Law Firm is skilled in handling criminal cases involving:
- Paranoid Disorders
- Schizoaffective Disorder
- Major Depression and Major Depressive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Manic Depression
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Oppositional Defiance Disorder
- Autism Spectrum and Symptoms Formerly Diagnosed as Asperger's Syndrome under the DSM IV
In many criminal cases involving mental illness, including felony cases, securing treatment for one's mental illness can help in avoiding criminal prosecution altogether. In other cases such treatment can offer significant mitigation. The Gage Law Firm can help set up low-cost treatment in the community and often negotiate a more desirable outcome with prosecutors.
Those who suffer from mental illness aren't criminals. At The Gage Law Firm, we will take every step to ensure that you or your loved one is treated as a person every step of the way. We will be happy to give you a free consultation as a guide for what you can expect from our representation.
Probate Cases and Involuntary Commitment
When a loved one experiences symptoms of a mental illness that have become so severe that their safety or the safety of others is a concern, it may require involuntary hospitalization. These events can be traumatizing not only to the person who is suffering from the illness, but also to those who care about him or her. Getting answers from the mental health professionals about a loved one in the hospital can be very difficult and requires maneuvering around various legal hurdles.
It can be extremely frustrating as a family member to know that your loved one is ready to be discharged, but the hospital refuses to let him or her out. There are a variety of statutory rights that a committed person can invoke, but many are not used regularly and the hospitals will not often help a patient understand those rights. Those might include a right to transfer to another private hospital, the right to transfer to a state hospital, the right to request transfer to voluntary status, or the right to petition for full discharge.
At The Gage Law Firm, we have years of experience working with the probate courts in cases of involuntary commitment. Our firm has also developed powerful connections with Georgia's state psychiatric hospitals, making it easier and faster to get the answers you need about your loved one in many cases. If the hospital is seeking court intervention to keep a family member committed for a longer period of time, we at The Gage Law Firm can provide representation for the committal hearing process, which typically takes place at the hospital where an individual has been committed. We can also help facilitate the eventual transition of a patient back into the community smoothly and seamlessly, ensuring he or she does not quickly fall back into the condition which required hospitalization in the first place.
We work to ensure that our representation secures long-term success for our clients and not simply a revolving door in and out of the hospital. Give us a call and learn how our approach to mental health cases at The Gage Law Firm is different from other legal firms in Atlanta.
Most, if not all, of the fees with respect to our mental health services are based on flat fee pricing. In other words, there is usually one set fee due up front for the entire case and everything involved in pursuing the respective goal of the client, with little exception. By charging a flat fee upon initiation of representation, you know the full investment required for the case from the beginning, and we are able to put our focus and energies where they belong: on the client, rather than tracking endless billable hours or monthly payments.
Because our practice is so specialized and rare, our fees reflect the knowledge and expertise that comes with handling hundreds of cases involving mental health and the unique approach it requires. It is a major life investment, not a decision to be made casually, and can, in many cases, be the equivalent of other major life decisions in terms of cost, such as investment in education, or healthcare, a car or even a home. The time and energy required for cases involving mental illness extends well beyond the courtroom, and the investment reflects that time and energy, as well as the goal of having a client on a path to stability and success, rather than a return to the destructive criminal and prison systems or the insufficient probate system. The Gage Law Firm often remains engaged with a client for many months to ensure, as best we can, that our clients are being respected and served in a way that is different from anything else they might have seen in the legal world.