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Civica Law Sheds Light on CARE Court in Western City Magazine: Balancing Mental Health Treatment with Civil Liberties

by | Jan 16, 2024 | Community, Lauren Brown, Matthew Silver, Natalie Sahagun

Civica Law is proud to announce another feature in Western City Magazine, underscoring our continued dedication to the forefront of legal and technological advancements in public welfare. This time, we focus on California’s new legal framework for behavioral health care – the CARE Court.

The insightful article, authored by our legal experts, including founding partner Matthew R. Silver, associate attorney Lauren E. Brown, and law clerk Natalie Sahagun, offers a comprehensive understanding of this pioneering approach to mental health and substance use crises.

CARE Court: A Groundbreaking Legal Approach

California, like many states, is grappling with a severe mental health and substance use crisis, particularly affecting its homeless population. Recognizing the gaps in existing systems, the state legislature introduced the Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act, a law designed to provide essential support and care to those in dire need.

A Shift in Paradigm

The CARE Court system represents a significant shift from historical approaches to mental health care and introduces a more balanced approach, integrating incentives and legal coercion to ensure long-term treatment while respecting individual civil liberties.

CARE Act’s Legal Framework

Our experts delve into the legal intricacies of the CARE Act, highlighting how it attempts to balance mandatory county participation, judicial oversight of civil rights, and the provision of long-term treatment based on judicial orders.

Implementing CARE Court: Process and Eligibility

Expediting Intervention

CARE Court aims to prevent unnecessary psychiatric hospitalizations and incarcerations. It targets those with severe mental illness, offering voluntary CARE agreements or court-ordered CARE plans, inclusive of behavioral services and housing resources.

The Petition Process

The initiation of CARE Court proceedings can stem from various sources, including police, outreach workers, and family members. Eligibility hinges on strict criteria, ensuring that only those who can most benefit from the program are included.

Judicial Oversight

The CARE Court process provides for judicial oversight, offering support and legal counsel to individuals. In cases where voluntary participation fails, the court may refer individuals to conservatorship as a last resort, emphasizing the preference for voluntary treatment.

CARE Act’s Reach, Challenges, and Implementation

Legislative Enhancements

In response to evolving needs, the CARE Act has been expanded through additional legislation. SB 35 and SB 43 introduce measures to refine the implementation process, expand definitions, and ensure greater participant rights and access to the program.

Evaluating Effectiveness

As counties across California begin to implement CARE Court, its effectiveness in addressing the state’s mental health and homelessness crisis remains under scrutiny. Civica Law’s analysis in Western City Magazine provides valuable insights into this novel approach’s potential impacts and future legal considerations.

A Commitment to Problem-Solving

The success of CARE Court relies on the commitment of various agencies and the legal community. Civica Law remains at the forefront, offering expert legal guidance and insights into this innovative approach; in which every county in California must implement into law by the end of 2024.

Our firm’s feature in the esteemed Western City Magazine is more than just a showcase of our expertise, it’s a testament to our commitment to addressing complex legal issues in public welfare. Our deep dive into the CARE Court system reflects our dedication to staying ahead in the dynamic field of law, ensuring that our clients and the community benefit from informed, proactive legal services. We encourage readers to explore the entire article to better understand CARE Court’s implications and strategies in behavioral health care.

Read the entire article here.

About the Author

  • Civica Law

    With over 75 collective years of experience, Civica Law has helped cities and counties abate thousands of dangerous and substandard properties, improve housing conditions, and effectively deal with a wide range of quality-of-life issues, from homeless encampments to cannabis, drug, and gang dens to illegal gambling (or tap-tap) facilities, illegal business operations, human trafficking and massage, land use, and zoning, and virtually every other conceivable quality of life and safety issue a public agency may face.