Screaming woman with schizophrenia

Mental Health & Criminal Defense

The Linder Firm Nov. 15, 2022

During a criminal trial, the prosecution is often required to prove the action and intent before a defendant can be found guilty. Unfortunately, many alleged defendants often end up committing a crime due to their mental illness or condition. Such mental health issues may include trauma, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. 

In a recent crime study by the American Psychological Association analyzing 429 cases, about 18% were mostly or directly related to the offender’s mental health condition. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime related to mental health issues, retaining a skilled Texas criminal defense attorney is imperative for proper guidance and to protect your rights. 

Attorney Phillip Linder has devoted his career to offering comprehensive representation and guidance to individuals who have mental health issues in their criminal cases. As your legal counsel, he can educate you about your rights and options when indicted for an offense related to your mental illness symptoms and determine your best defenses. The firm is proud to serve clients across Dallas, Texas, and surrounding areas throughout Dallas Metro and North Texas. 

Common Mental Health Disorders   

Mental health disorders or mental illnesses involve various mental health issues that affect a person’s reasoning, behavior, and mood. Below are some common mental health disorders: 

  • Anxiety disorders 

  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders 

  • Trauma 

  • Panic disorder 

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

  • Schizophrenia 

  • Depression 

  • Bipolar disorder 

  • Phobias 

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder 

  • Addiction and substance use disorder 

  • Mood disorders 

  • Psychosis 

Generally, most individuals with mental health issues experience the symptoms mildly, moderately, or severely. Unfortunately, these can prompt the person to violate the law or commit a crime. An experienced lawyer can evaluate every aspect of your unique circumstance, enlighten you about your available defenses, or determine if you can prove mental health as a legal defense. 

Mental Health as a Defense   

The mental illness defense or insanity defense is an affirmative legal defense that can be used in a criminal case. To establish an insanity defense, the defendant’s legal counsel must argue that the offender wasn’t responsible for their actions when the act was perpetrated as a result of their mental health issues. 

According to Texas law, it can be used as a defense if the assailant did not know that what he or she did was wrong due to severe mental illness or defect. 

Additionally, mental health defenses can be categorized into two – criminal responsibility and competency. 

Criminal Responsibility 

Criminal responsibility is an affirmative defense that will focus on the alleged defendant’s mental health condition at the time when the crime was committed. The defense lawyer must prove criminal responsibility by a “preponderance of the evidence” – presenting factual evidence of episodic or persistent mental health disorder.  


In contrast, competency is a legal defense that will focus on the defendant’s mental limitations presently. Essentially, an alleged offender who is incompetent or unable to understand the proceedings cannot be prosecuted by the state. 

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can outline a strong defense strategy for your unique situation and attempt to establish your mental health condition. 

Proving Mental Health Claims   

In order to establish a mental disorder defense or insanity defense in Texas, the defense attorney must show the following:  

  • There has been a comprehensive evaluation by a professional mental health expert. 

  • The report is supported by various testing, observations, examination, findings, and diagnosis. 

  • The defendant is incompetent and unable to understand the nature of their criminal actions.  

  • The offender cannot differentiate between right and wrong.  

A seasoned attorney can fight zealously to protect your rights and offer you the aggressive representation you need at every stage of the legal proceeding. 

Sentencing and Rights of Prisoners With Mental Health Disorders 

In Texas, various diversion programs are available to defendants suffering from mental illnesses as an alternative to incarceration for minor offenses. These include: 

  • Substance abuse treatment programs 

  • Mental health treatment programs 

Also, correctional facilities across the state of Texas are required to provide mental health services to those in need. An experienced attorney can advocate for your best interests and ensure that you get fair treatment. 

How Attorney Phillip Linder Can Help 

Occasionally, a mental health issue can prompt a person to be aggressive, passionate, or commit a crime. Unfortunately, such an alleged defendant may be facing criminal charges for their otherwise unintentional acts. Therefore, it is crucial that you hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney when facing mental health-related criminal charges for detailed guidance and advocacy. 

With over 30 years of extensive legal experience, Attorney Phillip Linder has the diligence and knowledge to guide and represent clients in their criminal allegations involving mental health issues. As your legal counsel, he can review the facts of your case and determine whether mental health illness can be established as a valid legal defense. Attorney Phillip Linder will continue fighting to uphold your legal rights and improve your chances of a brighter tomorrow. 

Contact The Linder Firm today to schedule a simple case assessment with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Phillip Linder can help you navigate the Texas criminal justice system and ensure that you are not punished for your unintentional actions. The firm is proud to serve clients across Dallas, Texas, and surrounding areas throughout Dallas Metro and North Texas.