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By Benson Varghese

Published on: September 4th, 2020 at 1:42 PM
Last Updated: September 22nd, 2020 at 12:27 PM

Do you or a loved one struggle with a mental illness?  Has your struggle led you to commit criminal offenses? The Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program can help treat your mental disability and keep your record clean. This pre-trial diversion program is available to individuals with a mental health history who are charged with offenses in Tarrant County.

The mission of the Mental Health Court Diversion Program is to identify mentally-impaired offenders and to expedite them through the criminal justice system by helping them achieve mental stability and non-criminal behavior.

What is the Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program?

Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program (MHD) is a pre-trial, post-booking diversion program for mentally impaired offenders.  The program offers offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised.  It is designed to divert mentally impaired offenders out of the traditional criminal justice process and into appropriate rehabilitative programs. Participants who complete their treatment regiment and graduate from the program will have their case dismissed and it will be eligible for an immediate expunction.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for the Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion?

The eligibility requirements for the Tarrant County Mental Health Program are as follows:

  • Applicant must be competent.
  • Applicant must be functioning with more than behavior modification issue.
  • Applicant must be out on bond.  In-custody cases are not accepted for review.
  •  Applicant’s mental health diagnosis must precede criminal offense.
  • Applicant must be charged with a misdemeanor charge or low-level, non-violent offense.
  • The defendant must admit to the offense, express interest to get into the program, and express ability to complete the program.

What Disqualifies an Applicant for the MHDP?

  • Any 3(g) offense
  • Any gang affiliation
  • Assault Serious Bodily Injury (SBI)
  • Delivery/Manufacturing Controlled Substance
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Applicants who need inpatient hospitalization.
  • Applicants who lack the resources to participate

What is the Screening Process for Candidates for the Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion?

Participants interested in the Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program must undergo a screening process to determine if they are right for the program. The screening process involves the following steps:

  1. Applicant is referred to the program. The referral may be made by the defense attorney, law enforcement, judges, mental health professionals, family or friends.
  2. A liaison with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office reviews the referral to ensure minimum criteria are met.
  3. Following the DA review, the defendant is scheduled to complete screening forms at the Mental Health Diversion Program (MHDP) office.
  4. The defendant is scheduled for a face-to-face interview with the MHDP Program Manager.
  5. The Program manager will then complete an evaluation and the findings will be sent to the DA with a summary of discussion and recommendation.
  6. DA will then decide whether applicant is approved or rejected for the program.
  7. If approved, the applicant will be admitted into the program.

What are the Conditions of Mental Health Diversion Program?

  • Must not commit a criminal offense for the duration of the program.
  • Must not consume alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substances.
  • Must submit to random chemical testing.
  • Must have no contact with persons of disreputable or harmful character.
  • Must cooperate with mental health treatment and/or counseling as recommended.
  • Must take all psychiatric medications as prescribed.
  • Must keep all appointments and attend all compliance hearings as scheduled.
  • Must agree to report to MHDP office and all other appointments as directed.
  • Must keep the program staff informed of any changes in address, telephone number and employer.
  • Must consent to the release of protected information as permitted under Texas law.
  • Must waive his/her rights to a speedy indictment, if charged with a felony offense, and to a speedy trial as provided for under the Code of Criminal Procedure of Texas, as well as the Texas and United States Constitutions.
  • Must acknowledge that failure to comply with any term of this agreement will cause the State to withdraw from this agreement and proceed with the prosecution of this offense.
  • Acknowledge that upon successful completion of the diversion agreement, the defendant shall be permitted to withdraw the plea of guilty, the State of Texas shall dismiss the charge in this matter and the charge will be eligible for expunction. However, this result is applicable only to charges that were specifically admitted to this program in anticipation of a diversion and dismissal.
  • Must attend monthly compliance hearings held in open court as directed.
  • Must agree to follow any/all directives given by MHDP in accordance with their individual treatment plan and program goals.

How Long is the Tarrant County MHDP?

The Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program is a four-phase program that is completed, on average, between nine months and two years. The length of the program is determined by the participants needs and progress.

What are the Phases of the Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion?

The Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program is a four-phase program and each phase takes about three to four months to complete. Here’s an overview of what’s expected at each phase:

Phase One – Stabilize

Complete a psychiatric evaluation with a mental health professional.
Demonstrate medication compliance for 1 to 3 months to promote mood stability.
Comply with program agreement.
Complete an individualized treatment plan and participate in treatment accordingly.
No inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations within the last three months.
Maintain sobriety for at least two months.
Regular attendance at court sessions.

Phase Two – Maintenance

Demonstrate medication compliance for 3 to 6 months to promote mood stability.
Continued compliance with the program agreement.
Participate in treatment as outlined on the treatment plan.
No inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations within the last three months.
Maintain sobriety from all illegal drugs and alcohol for at least three months.
Regular attendance at court sessions.

Phase Three – Continued Care Planning

Demonstrate medication compliance for at least six months to promote mood stability.
Continued compliance with the program agreement.
Complete treatment goals on the treatment plan.
No inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations within the last four months.
Maintain sobriety from all illegal drugs and alcohol for at least four months.
Regular attendance at court sessions.
Completed Transition to Discharge Plan.

Phase Four – Step-Down Phase

Demonstrate medication compliance for at least six months to promote mood stability.
Completed all treatment goals on the treatment plan.
No inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations within the last four months.
Completed Transition to Discharge Plan.
Maintained sobriety from all illegal drugs and alcohol for at least four months.

Graduation Requirements 

Clearly demonstrated that you have been fully engaged in your treatment and completed all program requirements.
Continued demonstration of ability to maintain long-term sobriety
High School Diploma or GED
Employed or unemployed and adequately supported by other means, such as retirement, disability, and family/spousal support.
All restitution fees paid in full.
Actively engaged with community resources, such as MHMR, NAMI, AA, etc.
Completed Transition to Discharge Plan.
Paid Program Fees in Full

What are the Incentives for Completing the Mental Health Diversion Program?

The rewards for completing the Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program cannot be overstated. They include:

  • Mentally stability
  • Case dismissed
  • Expunction
  • Avoiding jail or prison

Interested in Applying for MHDP? Contact Us.

If you are looking for attorneys with experience successfully admitting individuals into the Mental Health Diversion Program, contact us at (817) 203-2220. We believe in this program, and we have close working relationship with the staff of the program. Varghese Summersett even helped produced the following video about the program in which Managing Partner Benson Varghese interviewed Judge Brent Carr and participants of the program. Watch it now and hear their success stories.