Office of the Public Defender
Mental Health Unit
SVP Special Operations Unit
Center Drive West, Suite 200
Santa Ana, CA 92703
Telephone: (714) 796-8200
FAX: (714) 568-4139
HEAD OF MENTAL HEALTH
Sheryl Beasley, Assistant Public
DEPUTY PUBLIC DEFENDERS:
Mental Health Advocacy Unit
- Frequently Asked Questions
How do I obtain the services of a Public
Deputy public defenders are appointed by the
court. If you are involuntarily detained and cannot afford to hire an
attorney, the court will appoint a public defender at your first appearance
before a judge. If you have questions call the Mental Health Advocacy Unit
How long can the hospital hold me against
Under the current law you may be detained
initially for 72 hours by authorized personnel (WIC 5150). At the conclusion
of that time period, if the hospital still believes that as a result of a
mental disorder or impairment by chronic alcoholism you pose a danger to
yourself or a danger to others and you have been advised of the need for
treatment and have been either unable or unwilling to accept treatment on a
voluntary basis, you may be detained for a an additional 14 days (WIC 5250).
Link to WIC.
What are my rights if I am involuntarily
If you have been certified for a 14 day
hold, you have an automatic right to a probable cause hearing unless you
have requested a Writ of Habeas Corpus.
You have the right to be represented by a
patient advocate at your probable cause hearing.
If you win your probable cause hearing, the
hospital must release you.
If you lose your probable cause hearing you
have a right to a Writ of Habeas Corpus hearing.
The court will appoint the public defender
to represent you on the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
If you win the Writ of Habeas Corpus, you
will be released.
If you lose, you will be kept until the end
of the hold period.
At that time, the hospital will decide if
they are going to pursue an LPS conservatorship.
What is an LPS conservatorship?
If the hospital believes that you are unable
to provide for your own food, clothing and shelter because of a mental
disorder, the hospital can make a recommendation to the Public Guardians
Office that a conservatorship be established for you.
The Public Guardian, as the court
investigator, will decide whether or not to request the court to start a
If the conservatorship is established, it
will be for a period of one year.
Do I have the right to object to the
Yes. You have a right to a jury trial on the
issue of whether or not you are gravely disabled.
You have the right to have a public defender
(or private attorney) assist you in preparing your defense.
You have a right to copies of all petitions.
You have a right to force the county to
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you need a conservator.
What happens after trial?
If you win your trial, you must be released.
If you lose your trial you will have a
conservator appointed to help you with decisions for one year.
The court will decide if the public guardian
or a family member will serve as your conservator.
You will also be required to take medication
if ordered by a doctor.
For more information who should I call?
If you are being involuntarily detained and
need more information please contact the Mental Health Advocacy Unit of
the Public Defenderís Office directly at (877) 494-7788. If you are a
family member and need more information please contact Public Guardianís
Office at (714) 567-7660, or the Family Advocateís office at (714)
796-0265, or your local mental health association.
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