Criminal/Mental Health


Mission Statement

"Integrating community resources to meet the unique needs of persons with mental illness in the court system thereby enhancing community safety."

The Comprehensive Mental Health Court was developed in response to the growing number of serious mentally ill people coming into contact with the criminal justice system. The focus of the Comprehensive Mental Health Court is to identify those eligible for treatment, work collaboratively with service agencies to provide treatment and services, and oversee compliance with treatment orders. This approach avoids additional civil commitments and arrests and reduces the costs associated with incarceration.

Pre-Screens

Pre-Screen Evaluations - when a defendant has committed a misdemeanor, defense may decide to motion the court for a prescreen evaluation. A screening DOES NOT determine competency, but whether more evaluation is needed. Once a prescreen is ordered, it is faxed to the Forensic Services Unit of the Comprehensive Mental Health Court (CMHC)

Order received:

  • In custody
  • Out of custody
  • Order
  • Psychiatric evaluation sheet
  • Complaint
  • Police report

There are two possible outcomes from the pre-screen report:

  • NO further evaluation is needed- case returns to originating court OR
  • Further evaluation is needed, in which case, the case is returned to the originating court for the judge to decide if they will order a full rule.

Rule 11

The Forensics Services Division of the Superior Court receives criminal cases which have defendants who may need to be evaluated for competency. The Court will order that two doctors conduct a psychological evaluation of the defendant. The doctors will determine whether the defendant is competent to be adjudicated.

  • If the defendant is found competent, he/she is remanded back to the trial court for adjudication
  • If the defendant is in-custody and found to be incompetent and restorable, he/she is sent to Correctional Health Services Restoration to Competency (RTC) program to receive treatment. Once the defendant is restored to competency, he/she is remanded back to the trial court to be adjudicated
  • If the defendant is out-of-custody and found to be incompetent and restorable, he/she is ordered to participate in an Outpatient Treatment Program which will be monitored by a contracted psychiatrist and/or psychologist. Once the defendant is restored to competency, he/she is remanded back to the trial court to be adjudicated

In the event that a defendant (in-custody OR out-of-custody) is still considered as incompetent yet not restorable within the statutory time limits, he/she may meet the criteria for civil commitment. The County Attorney's office has 24-48 hours to file a civil commitment petition. The defendant is transported to Desert Vista Behavioral Health Center for evaluation and treatment. The criminal charges are dismissed upon the defendant arriving at Desert Vista either by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) or by self-surrenders.

Rule 11 Flowchart

SMI Probation Violation Court

The Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI)-Probation Violation Court was established to monitor and treat the seriously mentally ill. The goal of the Court is to problem solve collaboratively with treatment providers and offer tools (review hearings, Mental Health Court contracts, etc.) to increase the probability of success for a SMI defendant on probation. Whenever possible, the Court offers the potential for SMI defendants to earn misdemeanors and expedite release from custody (when appropriate) directly to treatment as approved by the Adult Probation Department and the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA).

Judge Starr
Criminal Presiding Judge
Patricia Starr

Shawn Haught
Criminal Department Administrator
Contact the Criminal Department

  This page was last updated on: