Mental Health Court

Overview of the Mental Health Court (MHC) Program

In early 2016, the Mental Health Court Planning and Implementation Task Force recommended the creation of a Mental Health Problem-Solving Court in both Montgomery County's District and Circuit Courts.

The Task Force recognized the following benefits from establishing an MHC:

  1. Strengthens public safety by reducing (1) recidivism among individuals who commit low-level crimes because of a mental illness, and (2) the risk that these individuals’ crimes will escalate to much more serious offenses because of a lack of access to medication and critical services.
  2. Improves treatment of people with mental illness by moving them away from incarceration into community services, to help stabilize them and enable them to lead productive lives.
  3. Increases efficiency of the criminal justice system by addressing the underlying illness behind these crimes and therefore reducing the strain on the police, prosecutors, and courts that occurs when the same individuals are arrested multiple times.
  4. Improves return on investment—replacing incarceration costs and social subsidies with potential revenue from taxes related to employing individuals who do not have a criminal record and can work safely in the community.
  5. Eliminates need for separate Veterans Treatment Dockets (VTDs)—court-supervised, comprehensive treatment programs for veterans suffering from mental health conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury, and/or substance abuse issues.
  6. Adds tool to address behavioral health challenges—the new Court represents a post-booking intervention strategy to add to the new approaches to mental illness being proposed across several Montgomery County agencies.

More information can be found in the Report of the Montgomery County Maryland Mental Health Court Planning and Implementation Task Force (PDF), dated January 21, 2016. (Please note: some of the attachments in Appendix A were updated as of November 2017)

Anyone can refer a defendant to the MHC Coordinator, including, but not limited to, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, Parole and Probation, state hospitals, private mental health providers, and family members.

If you would like to have a defendant evaluated for possible entry into the Mental Health Court Program, please contact the Problem Solving Courts Coordinator at 240-777-9141.

Administrative Order dated November 15, 2016 (PDF), waives all court costs and fees upon admission to the program.

Mental Health Court Forms:

Admission, Program Referral, & Graduation Requirements

Individuals eligible to participate in the new court are adults (age 18 or older) who are:

  • Residents of Montgomery County;
  • Diagnosed or assessed to be suffering from or impaired by a mental illness;
  • Deemed to be competent; and
  • Charged with or on probation for offenses related to their mental health diagnosis.

Mental illnesses found among eligible participants include, but are not limited to, schizophrenia, clinical depression, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Individuals with developmental disabilities who also have a mental illness may also be eligible to participate.

In Circuit Court, the defendant will need to plead guilty before entering the program, with the goal of reducing his/her criminal charges or allowing him/her to earn a probation-before-judgment (PBJ) upon successful completion and graduation.

Successful completion of MHC should result in the avoidance of a criminal conviction and/or criminal record for the offense, depending on the court. MHC participants must achieve all the goals of their individualized case treatment plan to successfully complete/graduate from MHC. Goals will vary depending on each defendant’s unique plan but may include a combination of:

  • Stability
  • Compliance with supervision
  • Participation in the community
  • Employment and/or other means of meeting daily needs
  • Engagement in therapy
  • Taking medication as prescribed
  • Staying drug-free

The program takes a minimum of 18 months to complete.

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