COURT WATCH: Probation Officer Opposes Mental Health Diversion for Accused with Diagnosed Mental Health Conditions

LOS ANGELES- CA, MARCH 2: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse March 2, 2004 in Los Angeles Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

By Sarah Chayet

VAN NUYS, CA – Judge Terrance T. Lewis, Deputy Public Defender Sarah Weil and Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Karb agreed in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday the accused, charged with four counts of arson-related charges, would be better suited in a mental health diversion program rather than remaining in custody.

The Los Angeles County probation representative, however, disagreed, calling the accused’s charges “severe and dangerous.”

“No one was injured,” said DDA Karb, who also stated she specializes in cases involving arson-related charges. In her statements, she did acknowledge that the multiple fires the accused had set did have the potential to become more dangerous, had they not been detected in time.

Two of the fires had been dumpster fires. In one instance, the side of a building had been slightly burned. But, DDA Karb said she had spoken to two of the business owners who had been impacted by the fires, and both of them were in support of the accused receiving mental health attention.

The accused had been officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder with psychotic features. Since the arrest, DPD Weil said the accused was “very motivated to stay on medications and maintain sobriety.”

According to a representative from the Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR), the accused was “very stable on medication.”

The only opposition to the mental health diversion alternative came from the probation representative, who had concerns about the accused’s criminal activity being more serious.

The accused is 46 years old with no previous criminal involvement. DPD Weil said the accused’s age was an indication that she had lived a fair amount of life without having committed a crime.

Despite the opposition from probation, Judge Lewis went ahead with granting mental health diversion for this case.

“(The accused) is eligible and suitable for mental health diversion,” said Judge Lewis. The accused was assigned two years of probation, with specific stay-away orders.

In eight weeks, the court will revisit this case for a progress report.

About The Author

I'm a recent California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo grad. I majored in English and received a minor in Studio Art. In the fall, I plans to go back to school for a master's degree in English Literature. Currently, I am a transcript editor for CalMatters, and I hope to enter the field of technical writing someday. In my freetime, I love to draw, go on roadtrips, and camp

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