Best way to handle a self-defense case regarding a mentally ill person?

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Best way to handle a self-defense case regarding a mentally ill person?

My son, who is schizophrenic and other mental health issues, was recently attacked twice by the same person on the streets. After the second attack he tried to defend himself by hitting the person several times; the attacker received severe injuries. My son has being held for the last 6 months without bail. The DA in the case wants to give him the maximum punishment – 15 years in jail. At this point I am very worried. Please advise me as to how this case could play out so that I can make the right decision in helping my son with his defense. Should I speak with a criminal defense attorney? In Fort Bragg, NC.

Asked on January 6, 2011 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you should most definitely speak with a criminal defense attorney and right away.  Holding your son that long without bail and apparently without counsel is a crime in and of itself.  He has a right to counsel if he can not afford one and a right to a speedy trial.  Is it possible that he has fallen through the cracks in the system?  That could work to your benefit. Now, even though he has a mental illness (documented I hope) it does not mean that he needs to use it in his defense if in fact the attack was self defense.  All the facts and evidence need to be reviewed here and should be done so soon.  Good luck to you.


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