Mental Disorders and the Legal System

There are many ethical decisions made daily in the psychology field. Whether these decisions are made to protect patients or others, to keep a mentally ill person from receiving a prison sentence and getting them the mental help they need, helping those with cultural differences, or making sure that a potential patient or study participant has given informed consent, making the correct ethical decisions can be difficult for mental health professionals. Because of this, many laws have been created to put some of these ethical decisions into stone thus relieving some of the difficult decisions that a mental health professional may face.

Psychology and the law spans a number of areas including that of prosecuting of those with mental illness. There have been many legal cases where the defendant had a mental illness that caused them to hurt or murder others. Because of these legal cases and ethics in psychology, a number of laws have been created in order to protect both those with mental health problems and the general public. For example, if someone is declared to have been "legally insane" while the person commits a crime, the crime can be considered as an accident. Instead of the person going to prison, he or she is instead sent to a mental health care facility to be treated. This law protects the mentally ill who, had he or she not been stricken with mental illness, may not have committed the crime.

The laws surrounding prosecuting the mentally ill bring up a number of questions. Deciding whether or not a particular defendant is to be found innocent or guilty of their crimes based on their psychological state when the crime was committed is a difficult choice for mental heal care professionals, judges, and juries. These decisions not only weigh heavily on the defendant's future life, but also can weigh on the lives of judges and juries as these decisions can have mental consequences. Furthermore, these decisions an also have a consequence on the general public either by protecting them from future harm or by creating a legal precedent that can make changes in human rights.

As there is some gray area in these laws, the laws are constantly changing to keep up with the changes in the mental health field. As the mental health field grows, many laws change to reflect this so that patients, professionals, and the public can receive the full rights and protection they deserve.
About this Author

Melanie writes articles on HubPages on topics such as cultural psychology and informed consent in research and a number of other topics.

Criminal Defense Attorneys and Court Appointed Attorneys

Quite frankly the top criminal defense attorneys and court appointed attorneys are the ones that win the most cases and get the most satisfying results for their clients. Court appointed attorneys do not publish their case results so their success in court is obscure. You should choose a criminal defense attorney that gets the best case results for their clients, not an attorney that gets the highest opinion or recommendation of a judge or other attorneys. The opinions of judges or other attorneys can always be swayed by personal meetings and relationships. It makes complete logical sense to choose a criminal defense attorney that wins the most cases or gets the best results for their clients in the same way that a top boxer or athlete is the one that wins the most.

Many articles have been written on choosing between hiring a criminal ddfense attorney and getting a free court appointed attorney. A misconception is that a court appointed attorney will fiercely fight for you and give effective counsel. Court appointed attorneys have heavy case loads and very limited time to work on your case. The limited time they have to work on your case will affect the success or failure of your case results and ultimately your life.

A private criminal defense attorney that works on a team of criminal lawyers and experts that communicate thoroughly with you and have the resources and time dedicated to your case is going to maximize the potential of a good outcome. Providing you with the best legal counsel to win your case is the responsibility and probably the intention of every criminal defense attorney, whether public or not. However, governmental budget restraints and an overloaded judicial criminal court system is the reality that a public defender and defendants that choose them must accept.

If you decide to get a court appointed attorney you are also taking a risk because that particular one may not specialize in the type of criminal law that you have been charged with or have meager or no experience at all. Court appointed attorneys that have insufficient experience defending criminal cases are not likely to have a comprehensive understanding of the rules of evidence, especially if they have no experience with the criminal charges you are facing. Attorneys deficient in experience will also have difficulty identifying the strengths and weaknesses of your case, trying your case in the court room, and will also have little credibility negotiating a good deal for you.

There are also court appointed attorneys and law students who have no experience at all and that is why they're working in the public defenders' office; to gain experience. As you can expect this is the worst possible scenario as law schools are not what the real world is like, and the criminal law courtroom is extremely different than a classroom. A court appointed attorney may be a law student or brand new attorney standing up in court for the very first time. He may be more scared than you are and be intimidated by a prosecutor with years of experience in criminal law, the courtroom, with trials and plea bargains. This is not the situation that you want to find yourself in when you're life and liberty is on the line.

A criminal defense attorney having experience in criminal law and the criminal charges that you are facing is extremely valuable when deciding on whether or not your case goes to trial and plea bargaining. A criminal defense attorney that has thoroughly reviewed your case with other criminal lawyers and experts in the field will pool their experiences and expertise giving you the advantage of a very knowledgeable criminal defense team fighting for you. A good criminal defense attorney will also have your case investigated by experts to assure that he or she is making the appropriate decision on whether or not your case has enough probable and sufficient evidence to seek the advantages of going to trial or the alternative decision to take a plea bargain. Either way knowing your case from the inside out and all possible scenarios will enable your attorney to effectively represent you in criminal court and get you the best case results.

You may get very lucky with a court appointed attorney with a light work load, but chances of this happening are not likely. Problems of low salaries and excessive case loads commonly plague many state public defenders' offices. Some court appointed attorneys juggle over two hundred cases. In Los Angeles County it is very common to have one public defense attorney handle over 300 cases, which is well over the maximum caseload size of one hundred recommended by the American Bar Association for a full-time practicing attorney. Even the most well-intentioned and passionate court appointed attorney may be overwhelmed and jeopardize their client's constitutional right to effective counsel.

Gambling your life on an already overburdened criminal court system could land you in jail with heavy fines and few answers. You may even find yourself with a severely jeopardized future or no future at all. You owe it to yourself to retain a criminal defense attorney that is meticulously dedicated in representing you so that you may go on living your life.
About this Author

An expert on criminal defense from wrote this article. Read about our criminal defense attorneys, their case results, recent case wins in the news, and our criminal law areas of distinction.

How A Criminal Attorney Is Able To Help You

In the United States, criminal law is arguably the most complex area of law, since it comprises a wide range of concepts. As a result of this, there are a wide range of available attorneys that specialize in criminal defense. A good criminal attorney will advocate on behalf of their client in court and defend them to the best of their abilities against criminal charges.

Several offenses are deemed to be illicit and immoral in nature because of the gravity of their consequences. The most representative crimes falling under this legal area include homicide, assault, theft, drug trafficking and sexual offenses. Certain lawyers specialize in a specific kind of crime, whereas others widen their area of practice to include all illegal acts.

Choosing the right lawyer to represent you in your case is a decisive factor in whether you will succeed or not. As may be expected, there are various types of lawyers specializing in different areas, so choosing the right lawyer will mean greater efficiency and competence. A strong defense is much more likely when the lawyer you choose already has expertise in the defense of the crime you're accused of.

When a person is arrested and charged with a criminal act, they will inevitably feel crushed by the harsh reality. Indeed, persons who go through such an ordeal often describe it as the most traumatic period in their lives. Furthermore, the family of the accused will also share the burden of fear and anxiety.

It therefore becomes crucial to appoint a reliable defense lawyer to take care of your legal issues in these troubled times. The shock will make an individual feel helpless and at a loss as to what to do, so having a lawyer by your side will allow you feel more at ease and confident that the matter is in a professional's hands.

Apart from the emotional blow, a person facing such serious charges also has their reputation at stake. It is inevitable that when a person is arrested and accused, his record will suffer an indelible mark, which might well influence their life later on. It is only through a sound criminal defense that an individual can safeguard their reputation and professional credibility.

The most common fear of defendants is being sentenced to time in prison. Being forced to spend a period of time incarcerated will mean a harsh separation from loved ones, as well as a huge blow to one's reputation. Most people faced with a criminal charge tend to panic and imagine themselves in jail before a criminal defense lawyer is hired. Fortunately, a good attorney will manage to eliminate the certainty of jail, or at least lessen the period which must be served.

Browsing the internet will help you make an informed choice in your time of need. Many lawyers today have their own website through which they can advertise to potential clients. Such websites will contain all the relevant information which prospective client would need. Certain lawyers also offer free consultation to anyone wishing to make use of such service in order to better understand his legal position in such an important time.
About this Author

When hiring a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer, ensure that you meet with more than one so that you can make an informed decision on who to hire.

If you've been arrested for a crime you've committed in Broward county, you will need the representation of an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney to ensure that you won't fall victim to an aggressive and zealous prosecution. Being sentenced to a period of incarceration is devastating for most people. To learn more, please visit

Understanding Federal Sex Crimes

In the United States, there are two kinds of courts - state courts and federal courts. State courts have been established by each state and are located in cities and counties. In contrast, federal courts are established under the U.S. Constitution to handle disputes involving the Constitution and laws which were passed by Congress.

State courts have a lot of power, so most cases involving individuals will be heard in state courts. For example, the state courts will handle cases involving family law disputes, robberies, burglaries, theft and broken contracts. The state courts will not hear cases involving specific federal laws such as criminal, antitrust, bankruptcy, patent and copyrights.

A vast majority of criminal cases involving violations of state laws are heard in state courts, but cases which
involve violations of federal laws can be diverted to federal court. There are some instances where both federal and state courts have jurisdiction. When this occurs, the parties choose whether to go to state or federal court.

A federal crime or federal offense is a crime which is made illegal by federal legislation. In the U.S., people can be prosecuted at either the state or federal level. As stated above, the majority of criminal offenses are prosecuted on the state level; however, a "federal offense" will be prosecuted on in federal court.

Certain aggravated or more serious sex crimes are federal offenses in this country. If a person is convicted of a federal sex crime, they could be facing mandatory minimum sentencing. In addition to spending years in prison, probation or parole, and fines, they are also facing mandatory sex offender registration.

When a person is required to register on the national sex offender registry, their name, address, headshot and description of their offense will be publicly posted. This means that anyone can have access to such private information for years to come. Sex offender registration can also limit where you live and where you can be. Limits can be placed on how close you go to a school campus or a public park.

Another less widely known fact about being convicted of a federal sex crime is that you might be sent to a Federal Medical Center, which is a Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility. These facilities treat the terminally ill, the mentally ill and sex offenders. Inmates with a sex offender history are enrolled in the residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R) or Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP). Whether inmates like it or not, they are expected to submit to these "intensive" treatment programs along with other sex offenders.

What sex crimes fall under the category of federal sex crimes? First of all, most sex crimes involving children such as sexual assault, rape, possession of child pornography or distribution of child pornography are considered federal crimes. The list of federal sex crimes is quite extensive, however some common examples of federal sex crimes include aggravated sexual abuse, repeat offenders, sexual exploitation of children, human trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, sexual abuse resulting in death, selling or buying children for sexual purposes, and many more.

Being convicted of a federal sex crime can ruin your reputation and your livelihood. Not only would you be facing years in prison, but mandatory sex offender registration as well. Being labeled a "sex offender" will affect your ability to get housing, employment and higher education. No matter what brought you to these charges, it's essential that you consult with an experienced federal criminal attorney who defends such complex cases.
About this Author

Guy L. Womack & Associates, P.C. is a federal criminal defenses firm which represents clients throughout the U.S. in federal court cases. When you are being charged with a federal crime, you cannot afford to hire an attorney who has little to no experience in defending federal criminal charges. Your case may be under scrutiny by a large federal agency such as the FBI, DEA or CIA. If this is true, you need a highly respected federal crime defense lawyer by your side. With nearly thirty years legal experience, and a background as a former federal prosecutor, Guy Womack has the requirements you need to defend your case in federal court. To learn more about how you can fight your charges, contact an attorney from our firm by calling toll free at (800) 990-8762 or by visiting the firm's website at

Finding The Best Criminal Lawyer To Represent You

When referring to criminal law, reference would need to be made to the various aspects which make up such a vast legal area. Consequently, a criminal lawyer refers to an attorney whose studies concentrated on criminal law and its several branches. Defense attorneys are the professionals required for anyone seeking to be well-defended against any criminal accusations.

Crimes are obviously serious violations of the law, which damage an individual either physically or morally. The sort of crimes which are commonly prosecuted are generally homicide, drug trafficking, theft and sexual offenses. However, criminal law is certainly not limited to these alone, and that is why there are several criminal lawyers that specialize in particular areas.

As can be imagined, hiring a lawyer who has sufficient experience in the particular area under which your case falls is crucial. Choosing the right lawyer to represent you will have a determinate effect on the outcome of your case. For this reason you obviously should do a little research on who would be the best attorney for you.

There are few experiences as traumatic as being accused of a crime. This is true both for the accused as well as for their loved ones. Preparing a solid defense requires time, effort, energy and financial means. Trusting your case in the hands of a reliable lawyer will relieve you of much anxiety, since you would know that an experienced professional would be in charge of your defense.

The benefit of having a good defense attorney on your side is that they will be professionally and objectively involved, with no emotional shackles to cloud their determination. Seasoned lawyers would have dealt with several similar cases in their past, so they would know what best to do.

Apart from the emotionally demanding time, facing a criminal charge would mean that your reputation is at risk. This is obviously a very serious aspect, especially as it regards your future professional endeavors. A criminal defense lawyer will know what to do to safeguard your personal record from harmful conviction records. Having a conviction on your record will influence where you can get a job and where you can live considerably.

While having charges dropped is a rare event, a criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate an equitable plea deal in which the charges would be reduced. This is naturally very much dependent on the facts of the case, but in general defense lawyers will manage to secure a much better outcome than what you would have initially imagined. The fear of facing time in jail is predominant amongst accused persons, but it is generally disposed of altogether by an able lawyer.

A very useful tool which anyone looking for a criminal attorney can make use of is the internet. A quick search will give you a wide range of websites of different criminal lawyers and their personal information. This will allow you to compare the different potential choices and to opt for the lawyer who seems best able to defend your rights. Apart from information, you can also use such websites to contact the lawyer directly and ask anything you wish. It is also possible to obtain a free consultation session with the lawyer of your choice so that you will be able to get to know how he approaches your case. Choosing the right criminal lawyer will be instrumental in your case.
About this Author

If you've been arrested in Broward county, you will need the representation of a Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected in the course of your case. A good criminal lawyer can get you a great plea deal when taking the case to trial is not a good option. To read more visit