When someone suffers from a mental health condition, it can be used in trial during both the finding section of the trial (when they rule guilty or not guilty), or during the sentencing phase, should you be found guilty.
For a mental health condition to be used during the finding section of the trial, it must rise to the level of insanity. For someone to be found to be insane, it means that they have the inability to understand the court-martial process and to participate in their own defense, or that they were insane at the time that the crime was committed and lacked the mental capacity to understand that what they were doing was wrong.
PTSD and Mental Health Issues Resulting from Trauma
Mental health issues, such as PTSD from trauma, are unlikely to be used as a full-on defense to absolve the accused. They usually serve to lessen the punishment. This is because PTSD is considered to be a mitigating factor. However, most people who are diagnosed with PTSD aren’t found to be insane.
Submitting to a Mental Health Evaluation
A prosecutor, agency, or commanding officer may ask that the defendant service member submit to a mental health evaluation prior to trial. However, he or she generally isn’t required to do so. Since the government could easily interpret the mental health evaluation in a certain light and use it as they see fit, it’s best to consult with a military defense attorney beforehand.
A defense attorney may ask the accused service member to submit to a mental health evaluation before trial in order to use the findings to help aid in defense. By demonstrating a connection between a traumatic event that led to PTSD or other mental health issues and the crime, it can greatly help the defense. A mental health issue can often garner sympathy from the jury and lead to a lesser punishment.
For instance, an individual who is experiencing a PTSD-related flashback and physically assaults somebody else in that moment may be able to reduce their punishment by offering it as a mitigating factor.
Regardless of the mental health issue, a qualified military defense attorney can help.
The Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC Helps Military Members in Colorado Who Have Been Charged with a Crime
The U.S. Government has an interest in obtaining a conviction as soon as possible, as it does not wish to gain negative publicity about one of its service members. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced military attorney as soon as possible.
If you are a military service member and have been charged with a crime under the UCMJ, the Court-Martial Law Division of Aviso Law LLC can help. We proudly serve our military members, who sacrifice so much for our country. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!