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Behavioral Health Court

Criminal cases become increasingly more complex when there is a need to balance public safety issues and due process for those persons experiencing mental illness.

The cases of individuals with mental illness involved with the criminal justice system reopen at an alarming rate compared to new filings. To that end, Metro Court developed a Behavioral Health Court in 2003 to proactively break the “revolving door” of arrest, adjudication, incarceration, and release experienced by many of these individuals. The Honorable Joshua J. Sánchez presides over Behavioral Health Court. The program provides the citizens of Bernalillo County and their loved ones the necessary judicial support sometimes required for successful rehabilitation of those affected by serious mental illness.

Enrollment in the Behavioral Health Court is voluntary. The Behavioral Health Court team consists of a program manager, a clinical service coordinator, a public defender, an assistant district attorney and four probation officers who oversee the program and have special expertise working with individuals with mental illness. Depending upon their progress, defendants spend between three months to a year in the Behavioral Health Court program.

Case Management Services

The court contracts with a community agency to provide case management services to individuals when competency or mental health issues have been raised. The case management services are intended to assist with stabilization, resources, housing, disability, medication, guardianship, and other needs that often accompany individuals with mental health and competency difficulties. These services are offered to defendants who may have not had access to services previously and often recidivate in our criminal justice system.