90-Day Diagnostics For A Criminal Case In Los Angeles
Sometimes when the prosecutors and judge are unsure how they might sentence a defendant in a criminal case, they will request what’s called a 90-day diagnostic. That’s basically where a person is sent to prison to be evaluated for 90 days and see if the prison believes that they are a suitable candidate for probation and a chance not to go to prison, or whether they’re somebody who belongs in prison based on a number of different factors.
Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve done a number of 90-day diagnostics. More and more, I don’t really believe they are the answer in criminal cases. Unfortunately, they are very sloppy and lazy in my experience in the prison as far as doing these 90-day diagnostics, and they really don’t get down to the root of what’s going on with the person. Very rarely is there a trained, sophisticated psychiatrist examining the person in prison. They don’t take their time.
One big thing that bothers me is a lot of times they want the person to completely admit that they committed every single crime that they’re charged with and every single detail of it, when in reality, that’s not what happened from the person’s perspective. So, you’re asking the person to basically lie and say yeah, I did this and I did that, instead of really trying to get an understanding of what happened and if the person is telling you the truth. Maybe all the details the police took down are not completely accurate. Why don’t you think about it for a minute and make a judgment call instead of just saying, the person didn’t admit exactly they’re claimed they’re doing, so therefore, we think they’re guilty. They’re not admitting responsibility for it so we think they should just go to prison.
I really find most of these 90-day diagnostics in Los Angeles and throughout California a big waste of time and I don’t usually have my clients do it because of the waste of time and because of the way it’s run. I would rather use our own experts, our own psychiatrists and let them provide a report to the prosecution and judge as to what they think should happen with the client – somebody who has all the details from our perspective – our version of events – instead of somebody who has taken the case cold and really doesn’t have the time or energy to put in to do it the right way.
So, I always vote no for a 90-day diagnostic. Sometimes I’ve been forced to do one though. I just did one recently because the court said before I’ll give your client probation, I need a 90-day diagnostic. I said okay, but I’m telling you right now Your Honor, every time these guys don’t do a good job. They take forever. They don’t do it the right way. Anyway, it was funny because the 90-day diagnostic came back, of course, recommending prison because they didn’t assess that my client had some mental illnesses at the time that his crime occurred, and so he viewed the crime one way, even though he was willing to accept responsibility for it – he remembered it a certain way and since he didn’t say it the way the police said, of course they recommended prison. But the judge still gave him probation. And the judge, I think even though he didn’t admit it, agreed that I was right – that it was a big waste of time doing the 90-day diagnostic.
So, if you have a situation where you’re contemplating a 90-day diagnostic, get in front of an attorney who knows what they’re doing, who has been a through a 90-day diagnostic in LA before, can best advise the client on how to handle it the right way so you can get the right result for your criminal case in Los Angeles.
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