Whenever a person is placed under arrest and accused of a serious felony or other crime that has potential jail time, a detention hearing will determine whether the defendant can stay out of jail while the case proceeds. Texas law allows certain people accused of criminal acts to remain free to assist with their own legal defense. But many who suffer from mental illness or some type of intellectual disability might undergo particular scrutiny.
When detainment is less likely
Texas criminal law says that when a defendant has suspected intellectual or mental disabilities, a state-provided expert in intellectual and developmental disabilities examines the defendant. If the expert affirms that the defendant is not an overt flight risk or a danger to others, there is a good chance that a detainment hearing will result in that person going free during the trial. That makes it easier to conduct an effective legal defense while ensuring general fairness during the trial phase. If the defendant has no prior criminal history, an expert’s testimony can help to keep the defendant out of jail until the case is decided.
Treatment services might be ordered
If the state-sponsored expert determines that the defendant should be detained for mental health evaluation or similar treatment, the relevant court could order an evaluation at a hospital or while jailed. A mandatory treatment program likely would be ordered only if a chronic intellectual disability or mental illness requires continual treatment to maintain the defendant’s well-being and mental faculties. Unless the defendant is fully capable of understanding the charges and acting in a reasonable capacity, the case generally will not proceed until their mental and physical health are adequate to go forward.
Conditional release might apply
A defendant might be allowed to remain free while the case proceeds but with conditions. A conditional release could require regular mental health evaluations, place limitations on movement and add a wide range of other restrictions designed to protect the general public. An experienced criminal law attorney in the greater McKinney area may be able to help an individual stay out of jail while defending a case.