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Clients with Mental Health Issues

Published on: 6/18/2014 9:41 AM
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If you or a loved one has been arrested and you have been referred to the Public Defender Office by NAMI we would like to provide the following procedural information which should help make the process more clear. 

  • The Public Defender's Office does not become the attorney of record until we are appointed or referred by the judge at the first court appearance. 
  • At the first court date, which is called an arraignment, if a private attorney is not retained, the case will be referred to either the Santa Clara County Public Defender, the Alternate Defender or Independent Defender Office and another court date will be set for the attorney of record to appear. 
  • If our office accepts the appointment, the client will be seen by a representative of the Public Defender's office for an interview. We will need a release from our client in order to provide information to the family as attorney communications with the client are confidential. The decision whether or not to communicate to third parties is the attorney’s decision, even after a release is signed. Please know that at all times our decisions are based on what we have determined is in the best interest of our client. 
  • Your input regarding your loved one's mental health history is very important to us and we appreciate any information you can provide that may assist us in obtaining the best outcome for our client.
  • Please understand that the mental health unit at the Public Defender Office receives an enormous number of phone calls from clients and their families each day. If you have access to a computer, you may prefer to communicate with us by email at Stephanie.Barkus@pdo.sccgov.org. You can also reach us by calling (408) 299-7700 and selecting option 8. Thank you for taking the time to communicate with us; we understand that this is a very difficult time for you. You can expect to hear from us within two business days.

For general information about how cases progress through the criminal justice system please see the links below.