Welcome to the King County District Court Regional Mental Health Court
What is unique about this program?
Defendants with mental illness have specialized needs. Their illnesses require continuity of care, access to treatment, and access to medication. The King County Regional Mental Health Court seeks to increase effective cooperation between two systems that have traditionally not worked closely together- the mental health treatment system and the criminal justice system. Our mission is to engage, support and facilitate the sustained stability of individuals with mental health disorders within the criminal justice system, while reducing recidivism and increasing community safety. Using a wraparound approach, the Regional Mental Health Court team meets frequently with the offender to assess needs, provide positive feedback and problem solving, and require accountability for non-compliance with treatment and probation conditions.
Who is on the Regional Mental Health Court team?
Regional Mental Health Court consists of a team of professionals who have specialized training and experience with mental health issues and therapeutic courts. They meet regularly to ensure that RMHC functions at its highest possible level. The team consists of:
- The Judge;
- The Defense Attorneys and Defense Social Workers;
- The Prosecutors and Victim Advocate;
- The Peer Specialists;
- The Probation Mental Health Specialists;
- The Court Clinicians; and
- The Program Manager.
How does a case get into Regional Mental Health Court?
If the defendant is charged with a felony or the case is pending in a King County municipal court, the Prosecutor currently assigned to the case must make the referral. City prosecutors must use the RMHC City Referral Form. Felony cases and city case can only be referred before final disposition.
If the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor and the case is being prosecuted by the King County Prosecutor’s Office, anyone –including defense counsel‒ can refer the case to RMHC. These cases may be referred at any stage of the proceedings, from pre-filing to post-sentencing. Referrals are typically made in court at the time that severe mental health issues are identified, simply by asking the currently-assigned judge to set an RMHC courtesy hearing. Law enforcement and other interested parties may also contact the King County Prosecutor’s Office at email@example.com at any time to initiate a referral.
What are the eligibility criteria?
The RMHC eligibility criteria are summarized below. A link to the complete program criteria can be found here.
- The charge(s) are being prosecuted by King County or a municipality within King County;
- The defendant has been diagnosed with an Axis 1 disorder that is ongoing and that significantly impacts his or her ability to function at baseline;
- Appropriate services are available in the community and the defendant is amendable to treatment and supervision; and
- There is a nexus between the defendant’s mental health symptoms and the circumstances or behavior leading to his or her current involvement in the criminal justice system.
What happens once the case is referred to Regional Mental Health Court?
Defendants appear in court one or more times to meet with the RMHC team and to screen for program eligibility. During this time, the defendant will be asked to sign one or more releases of information, so that the RMHC Clinicians can review records related to the defendant’s current or prior mental health treatment. Defense counsel may also be asked to provide supplemental information about the defendant’s mental health needs. During the screening process, the defendant will be placed on conditions of release specific to Regional Mental Health Court. If the defendant is eligible for RMHC and amenable to program requirements, the Court Clinician will draft an individualized treatment plan specific to the defendant’s needs. In order to opt in to RMHC, the defendant must enter a case disposition. Depending upon the nature and severity of the charge(s), this may be a stipulated order of continuance or other diversion agreement, or a guilty plea.
What are the expectations of Regional Mental Health Court?
Every treatment plan is unique, but typical conditions of supervision include:
- The defendant must comply with conditions of treatment and up to 24 months of supervision;
- The defendant must be actively engaged in mental health treatment and/or a chemical dependency program while participating in court;
- The defendant must take prescribed medications as directed;
- The defendant must maintain court-approved clean and sober housing and follow all housing rules (the RMHC team can often assist with housing placements);
- The defendant must commit no new law violations and may not possess weapons;
- The defendant must submit to urinalysis as directed;
- The defendant must report to a Probation Mental Health Court Specialist as directed by the Judge; and
- The defendant must return to court for reviews on a regular basis, initially at least every 30 days.
I have additional questions. Whom do I contact?
Please contact the Regional Mental Health Court Program Manager at 206-477-1692 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Regional Mental Health Court Prosecutor at email@example.com.
Regional Mental Health Court Forms and Materials
RMHC Policy Regarding Marijuana
Impact of RMHC on Recidivism and Other Key Outcomes – DSHS Report
RMHC 20th Anniversary “Perspectives” video
Community Mental Health Resources
King County Area Mental Health Providers
National Alliance on Mental Illness - Washington Chapter