Judge Demands Written Plan for Defendant with Mental Health Concerns before Release

By Ascari Bryant

SANTA BARBARA, CA – Judge Von Deroian in Santa Barbara County Superior Court Thursday demanded a written plan be made for the release of Christian Hernandez, a defendant with mental health concerns.

Hernandez, who appeared in court while in custody with hopes to be released, has mental health concerns and has shown to have manic episodes said Deputy Public Defender Jenny Andrews in his preliminary hearing.

PD Andrews attempted to enact a plan that would be beneficial to Hernandez and his mental health upon release.

Andrews stated, “Those things we are working to have in place are having Mr. Hernandez’s Medi-Cal activated and in place, ensuring he is released from custody with 14 days of medication.” PD Andrews brought with her Hernandez’s completed Medi-Cal form.

The process was believed to be quick and would take a day to activate. Furthermore, along with the activation of Hernandez’s Medi-Cal, PD Andrews attempted to further assist Hernandez by aligning him with Justice Alliance for continued medication, and long-term mental health care.

PD Andrews, however, explained things are not as simple as they seem, noting, “I am also waiting to hear back whether they are additionally requesting he be referred to go to sanctuary outpatient or whether Justice Alliance will fully provide care.”

PD Andrews through her efforts was hoping to avoid the possibility of Hernandez going without the needed medical treatment to function properly. Hernandez has committed a few crimes believed to be link to his mental health, the PD said.

Hernandez on three separate occasions was caught in the act of a crime. These crimes which Hernandez committed were believed to be manic episodes, rather than crimes of passion, said the PD.

PD Andrews went case by case with each crime, explaining the mental condition of Hernandez. Hernandez’s first incident took place in August 2020. Hernandez was on a bike where he was seen knocking the mirrors off three cars. The victims since then have been fully compensated and signed civil compromises declarations.

Hernandez was then hospitalized for five days for an incident that occurred which resulted in a misdemeanor. Hernandez was later released and while out of custody made strides to pay for the vandalism case, making on-time weekly payments.

However, this past June 21, the Hernandez family requested assistance for a mental health evaluation, but a police response occurred which led to his current case.

In response to PD Andrews’ argument that Hernandez should be released, Prosecutor Elizabeth Branch agreed there were mental health issues pertaining to Hernandez, but raised concern on whether he should be released.

Prosecutor Branch stated that “there are certainly mental health issues at play in these cases, my concern is we’re going to end up at square one if he’s not doing treatment.” Branch said she would be opposed to release because Hernandez has a history of not taking medication, making him a threat himself and others.

Judge Deroian then intervened and asked both the prosecution and defense if they had spoken, to resolve the situation.

PD Andrews in response to this stated, “My hope and plan is to prepare a mental health diversion petition.” PD Andrews hopes to have the defendant complete mental health treatment to the satisfaction of the court so he can complete mental health diversion.

Judge Deroian then responded, expressing concern for both the victims involved in the case as well the defendant.

“I’m open to releasing but I need to know that he’s been on medication for some period of time, he has enough medication when he is released to continue on his medication, and there is some reassurance to the court he will continue to take his medication,” the judge said.

Judge Deroian said she would release the defendant as long as safeguards were in place, and chose a continuance to July 22.

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