Severely mentally ill criminal defendants in Nevada may be able to get their charges dismissed if they complete an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program. A new Nevada law–AB 440–permits judges and prosecutors to recommend defendants for AOT in addition to the defendant’s family.
AOT is meant for defendants with mental illness but who are still competent. Incompetent defendants may instead be assigned to inpatient treatment.
In this article our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about Assisted Outpatient Treatment including eligibility requirements. Click on a topic to jump to that section:
- 1. What is AOT in Las Vegas, NV?
- 2. How do defendants get into AOT?
- 3. Who is eligible?
- 4. Is having a mental illness the same as incompetency?
- 5. Can someone get off for murder by going through AOT?
Also refer to our article on the insanity defense in Nevada criminal law.
1. What is the Assisted Outpatient Treatment program in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Nevada courts may order the involuntary admission of a defendant with mental illness to enter an assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) program. If the defendant successfully treats the AOT program, the judge will dismiss his/her criminal charges.1
2. How do defendants get into the Assisted Outpatient Treatment program?
A motion must be made to the relevant court to consider the defendant for AOT. This motion may be made by the court itself, the prosecutor, the defense attorney or by the defendant’s spouse, parent, adult children, legal guardian, physician, nurse, law enforcement, or an accredited agent of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The court will then hold a hearing within five (5) days of the motion. Medical personnel are required to examine the defendant and submit their findings prior to the hearing. If the court finds clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has a mental illness and is likely to harm him/herself if allowed his/her liberty, the court will order the involuntary admission into the AOT program.2
3. Who is eligible?
A Nevada court shall not admit a defendant to AOT unless:
- A program of community-based or outpatient services is available in the community in which the defendant resides or is otherwise made available to the defendant;
- The defendant is 18 years of age or older;
- The defendant has a history of noncompliance with treatment for mental illness;
- The defendant is capable of surviving safely in the community in which he or she resides with available supervision;
- The court determines that, based on the defendant’s history of treatment for mental illness, the defendant needs to be admitted to a program of community-based or outpatient services to prevent further disability or deterioration of the defendant which is likely to result in harm to him/herself or others;
- The current mental status of the defendant or the nature of the defendant’s illness limits or negates his/her ability to make an informed decision to seek treatment for mental illness voluntarily or to comply with recommended treatment for mental illness;
- The program of community-based or outpatient services is the least restrictive treatment which is in the best interest of the defendant; and
- The court has approved a plan of treatment developed for the defendant pursuant to NRS 433A.315.
The Division of Public and Behavioral Health has to approve the defendant’s admission into the AOT program. If the defendant has been accused of a category A felony, a category B felony, or of using force (or threatened the use of force), then the District Attorney has to approve the defendant’s admission as well.3
4. Is having a mental illness the same as incompetency?
No. Mentally ill people may still be competent to stand trial. Incompetent people may not stand trial, either due to mental illness or another condition.
Note that the AOT program is for mentally ill defendants who are still competent to stand trial. In contrast, incompetent defendants go through a different legal process and may instead be committed to an inpatient facility.4
5. Can someone get off for murder by going through the AOT program?
Theoretically yes, but it is highly unlikely. Mentally ill defendants charged with murder or other serious crimes may not undergo AOT without the District Attorney’s approval, which probably would never happen.5
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
If your loved one is mentally ill and facing criminal charges, contact our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a FREE consultation. We may be able to get him/her admitted to an outpatient treatment program and get his/her criminal charges dismissed upon completion.
See our article about the criminal defense of the military in Nevada.
- Nevada AB 440 (2017).
- NRS 433A.200.
- NRS 433A.310.
- NRS 433A.310.