Northampton County Mental Health Treatment Court is a diversionary court administered by the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas and supported by multiple Northampton County Divisions or Departments, to include: Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol, Developmental Programs, the Public Defender, the District Attorney, and Adult Probation.
The purpose of the M.H. Court is to address the crime or crimes of an individual who has a significant mental illness diagnosis and has committed said crime or crimes as a direct result of their experiencing symptomology of the illness. An example would be someone who is experiencing psychosis and is hearing voices telling them to go somewhere; by going to that location they commit trespass and are arrested. Individuals that commit violent crimes against others, felony drug crimes or sex offenses are not eligible for consideration.Typically when an individual has their arraignment hearing, their public defender or private attorney can inform the Court that they are applying their client to Mental Health Court. If agreed to by the prosecution and the Judge, the Attorney completes the application and submits it either directly to the District Attorney’s office or to the Public Defender’s Office for review and then submission. Once the D.A. receives the application, he makes a decision to either accept or deny the application. If denied, the client’s attorney is informed. If accepted, the application proceeds to the office of Mental Health. The M.H. team then does an assessment on the individual as to their appropriateness for the M.H. Court. If denied, the client’s attorney is informed as is the D.A.’s office. If accepted, the M.H. team does a write-up for discussion at the next M.H. Court Treatment Team meeting. At that point, the Treatment team makes a decision. If denied, the client’s attorney is informed. If accepted, the individual is contacted directly by M.H. staff and informed to report to the next week’s court session for admission.Once the individual is admitted to the Court they agree to follow all orders of the Court to include cooperating with Probation, M.H. and any treating entities. A court order is issued admitting them to the Court.The participant then enters court in Phase I. They appear before the judge weekly. After a significant period of time and compliance with the Court’s orders, participants are moved to Phase II which involves attending court every other week. Again, after consistent compliance and time, the Participant is moved to Phase III which is a once-monthly appearance followed not long after by graduation from M.H. Treatment Court. Upon graduation their original charges are wiped from their record. The time period for each phase varies. The typical treatment court protocol recommends 18 months to two years for the entire process, but individuals can progress more quickly. The individual and their case is treated individually to give the utmost benefit to that person. M.H. Treatment Court is unique in that every single participant is handled individually which allows that person to react and progress in treatment at the pace most appropriate for them and ultimately their success.