Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Forensic MH court vs Criminal courts

What knowledge or experience do people have about going under a forensic mental health court order being on it for a very long time or going through criminal court as a possible jail sentence.

From the experiences that other families have spoken of, I would say a forensic mental health court would be the better choice.

1 Like

I would choose the mental health court if it were me. In jail, one doesn’t know if they get their meds, they are often made fun of by other inmates. These are things I’ve read and heard first hand accounts. Do you have a choice? Most don’t so that is why I’m asking?

1 Like

Yes, mental health court here is excellent and treatment based. If someone qualifies for a mental health court placement AND is accepted, that is one in ten applicants where we live.

People try hard to get into mental health court here.


Hello jaxy and all of you,
In the US every state has different bylaws about Mental Health. In the state of California, to be committed fforensicaly, you must go through the judicial system. An attorney then pleas with the court system. There is a complete psychological evaluation and investigation. The process can take up to a year to complete. Once an order of incompetentcy is declared, then the judicial system and the State Hospital get together and discuss the case. A board of directors at the state hospital will review your case and make a decision in regards to acceptance to a mental institution. Our State hospitals only take specific cases, they have their own goverment. That is my understanding anyway.
For my son this was the best thing that could have happened. He is receiving wonderful care and we are very grateful. Although it took a long time for this commitment, we thank the powers that be in place for the mercy we have received.
Our family is now working on the acceptance. We are all very sad and grateful. Bittersweet, I believe that resonates with our situation. It will be a very long journey of recovery for our son, who will never be the same. We need to look forward to the day when we may have contact with him again. For now we are thankful for the mercy and grace we have received.
I never understood suffering until now, my heart goes out to all of you. Shalom
P.S. BTW I just spoke to my son’s doctor today. Our son is doing okay for now


So glad to hear your son is okay. Shalom


Thank you @AnnieNorCal, for acknowledging our suffering and our pain. So very glad you heard from the doctor and your son is doing okay for now. Peace be with all of us.


Thank you everyone for your replies. It seems the majority here think forensic mental health is the better option. My son is already on an order which can be removed by the treating doctor. Under the forensic order the doctor looses that power and it is given to the courts. As much as mental health treatment is what we need, I don’t trust it either. If people with schizophrenia had insight, it would be a whole lot easier because we may not of needed to be under an order and have more say about the treatments. Under the order your life is in the hands of doctors that come and go.


The mental health court here is excellent. The doctor and all the treatment team are amazing. That doesn’t mean the same is true everywhere.

1 Like


I’m in Northern CA too, and have a 37 yr old son, diagnosed 16 years ago, but is now unmedicated (I believe) and becoming combative and scary. I don’t understand how you got your son institutionalized; how did he get in the judicial system? I’m completely worn out trying to manage my son’s illness and keep him from hurting us or becoming homeless; I believe he needs to be hospitalized for a lengthy period, but don’t know how to make that happen. I can go on forever telling you what I’ve been through, but I just need to know how you made this happen with your son.

1 Like

Hello Linda
You should talk to a qualified person before you try and do anything. If you are in danger or he is assaulting you, please call 911

if you go to my post, you can read my son’s assualt. Our son was forensically committed due to an assualt.

I would call social services, adult protective services, the police and inform them that your son is scaring you, if you let them know that he’s acting violent and your not sure what to do, that he needs hospitalization, they may help you. be careful though, if the athorities cannot help you and you put things in motion it could aggravate the situation.

I am really concerned for your safety, a mentally ill person can turn on you at any time they feel threatened. If he is assaulting you or others you can have him arrested and this will put the ball in motion. Getting someone committed on a permanent basis is very difficult.

God bless you



You take him to the emergency room. If he won’t go, call the police and have them transport him. When you get him there, relay the situations and the off meds, violence, scary behavior, all that.
He will then be assessed by someone from the community health system on call crisis team.
While all that is in the works, you file (at the hospital) a petition for mental health treatment. You will be the responsible party for having him committed against his protesting. But that’s okay.
The ball is now rolling.
At this point, things take there course and they will begin looking into placement, available beds etc. As long as the petition is approved…which it should…and the assessment team identified his illness.

Assuming all this moves forward, you will be the one to sign release from the place he goes, meaning he can’t just check himself out.

In the meantime, you now have support for getting court appointed medicine compliance AND support for guardianship if so choose to do that. Either way, these are the steps we’ve gone through and all worked in that order pretty smooth.


The last time we took ours in to the psych ER unit, we had a CIT officer meet us there. They came to the vehicle and talked to our son. They were the ones that filed a MIW and we did not have to. This was new but was such help. I don’t think he did well in front of the Judge ( I was told he walked out) The judge did decide to keep him over sixty days.

1 Like

It all sounds like something out of a dream come true. We are really hoping such things are possible now that our son is located in an area with such services.

1 Like

The police just come talk to him and he says I’m not suicidal, not going to hurt anyone, and they leave, or the most they do is drop him off somewhere; they do not take him to the ER, there is not a crisis team. There is no real help until a tragedy or near tragedy occurs, then the ill person goes to jail. I know, I’ve been dealing with this for nearly 20 years. And that’s the way the system works here, everything goes into affect after a death or assault occurs.

1 Like

I am so sorry there is such limited help where you live. My stomache fell while reading your reply. I was unaware.

Maybe someone else here can think of another approach.

I too will keep thinking. Sending prayers

1 Like

When my son was psychotic before his diagnosis I called a crisis team several times then they sent some fairy of an arrogant clinician who said there is nothing wrong after he assessed my son. My son did very well at keeping under the radar, as I would too. Anyway I kept documenting and call the crisis team every single time my son was doing things of concern, so that meant phone call after phone call through the days for days. I also told them they better send out a clinician that’s qualified and has loads of experience please. The second clinician met my son and within a minute knew my son needed to go to hospital. Because my son did not go the clinician went away and put a Involuntary Order for mental health, then the police assist with the transport to the hospital while the clinician is present.
“For you people who are struggling to get this help, I could suggest emailing or any written record might help the mental health service or hospital accountable.”
My son is still on the involuntary order 3 years later and it can be removed by the treating psychiatrist. In the early days of diagnosis my son went out drinking, his brothers and him did not realise the seriousness of schizophrenia or the antipsychotic medication…so while drinking he had a delusional episode and assaulted some guy with a punch. Then bouncers jumped on him and then the police in which he tried to defend himself and ended up on 3 serious assault charges including assaulting the police which is generally a jail term. This is all while on the Involuntary order and still with his symptoms not treated being not on the right medication. Because he was drinking it does not come under a mental health law but criminal law. So we have been advocating for it to be moved to a mental health court by getting several psychiatrists reports. While my son has spent 2 1/2 years in hospital there is 2000 pages of documents of his assessments and treatments. So Togo to mental health court it would then become forensic mental health where then it’s not for the treating psychologist to stop the order it would then be under a higher jurisdiction and could mean he will having ongoing assessments and treatment for along time. Probably the better approach for someone who has schizophrenia who doesn’t want to take medication and would like to stop if he could. I don’t blame him for that, I also feel sad that he will feel quite trapped in this situation. As he blames his past 3 years on the medication and the order he is on, he thinks if he is not on the order or medication he will be well again. It sux!!! Anyway I’m hoping my son’s diagnosis was incorrect and some miracle it’s gone. Dreams are free. X


Our daughter acquired assault charges while IN the mental hospital. It was a tough situation. I mean, you have a girl who is mentally ill, trying to be stabilized, and getting assault charges due to delusions WITHIN the hospital.

After getting release, we immediately had to go to court “voluntarily” (yea right) to address these charges. We hired an attorney, OUTSIDE THE COUNTY (they all know each other within the countype, friends, favors, etc).

Couple 3k later, charges addressed. One dropped and other fines and costs with no probation or restitution.

It was a complete mess.

NOW, she says…dad paid those charges off…didn’t do anything wrong…he made them go away.

Ha! Ya can’t win.

And yes, forensic court was mentioned. Once in that system, highly probably the state mental health system takes over. We didn’t want that as I’ve heard most often, the individuals don’t get released.

The system is a mess. And where do you determine the “responsibilness” of actions or SZ MI???

Its very unclear.

Hang in there…:two_hearts:


And…even after ALL that…even last night, she hit walls, the tv, broke a cell phone,three things, and spit on the floor.

All because she was mad!!!

1 Like

Hello Linda,
What is wrong with our mental health system! There are so many MI people who need help and we cannot get any prevention.
Why doe something bad have to happen before enforcement or medical help can be obtained!
I just pray for you and your family, that some intervention may happen without someone getting hurt.