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Dealing with the Law (Criminal and Civil)

LEGAL ASSISTANCE, REFERRALS, AND RESOURCES and help people of low and moderate incomes find free legal information and legal aid programs in their communities.

Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles offers free civil legal services, advocacy, and representation to low-income people in LA.

Mental Health Advocacy Services, Inc. (MHAS) private, non-profit organization, provides free legal services to people with mental and developmental disabilities.

NAMI’s Legal Support Portal:  does not provide legal advice or assistance, but does offer some select referrals via this link.

National Database of Free Legal Aid for Low Income People. 

The Prison Law Office:  is a nonprofit public interest law firm based in Berkeley, California that provides free legal services to adult and juvenile offenders to improve their conditions of confinement. The office provides direct services to thousands of prisoners and juveniles each year, advocates for policy changes, and, if necessary, engages in impact litigation to ensure that correctional institutions meet standards required by the U.S. Constitution.

Psych-Appeal, Inc  is the first private law firm in the nation devoted exclusively to mental health insurance claims and to overcome insurer denials of treatment.

Public Counsel: is the nation’s largest not-for-profit law firm specializing in delivering pro bono legal services. Public Counsel annually assists more than 30,000 families, children, immigrants veterans, and nonprofit organizations and addresses systemic poverty and civil rights issues through impact litigation and policy advocacy.


The Court Liaison Program is at 23 courts countywide. This recovery based program serves adults with a mental illness or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorder who are involved with the criminal justice system.

The Co-Occurring Disorders Court (CODC) is a specialized drug court that focuses on those charged with non-violent crimes who suffer from both a mental illness and a substance abuse problem. It serves approximately 60 participants at any given time who agree to participate in the 12 to 15 month comprehensive, court-supervised co-occurring disorders treatment program, instead of a jail sentence.

The HALO Project is a pre-plea diversion program which provides an alternative to incarcerating homeless clients who are mentally ill, developmentally disabled and/or addicted to narcotics or other substances.

Juvenile Mental Health Court (JMHC) is a comprehensive, judicially-monitored program for juvenile offenders with diagnosed mental health disorders or learning disabilities and whose crimes demonstrate a link to the disorder or disability.  

Project S.T.A.R. provides eligible domestic violence survivors with early assessment of trauma, substance abuse and mental health disorders and appropriate residential treatment and wraparound services to address their needs.

Veteran’s Court accepts those Veterans who have served in the United States military; are entitled to benefits through the VA; and suffer from any of the following disorders that are related to their military service: Post traumatic stress disorder; Traumatic brain injury; Substance abuse; Sexual trauma; Mental health issues.  


The Mental Health Department of the Superior Court is composed of Departments 95, 95A, 95B, and the Office of the Counselor in Mental Health.

The Departments consider psychiatric evaluations, treatments, investigations, hearings and trials relating to involuntary detentions.

The Office of the Counselor in Mental Health assists mentally ill patients in filing Writs of Habeas Corpus; writes reports regarding minor children requesting release from psychiadetention; and provides information to the community regarding mental health resources among other duties.

Mental Health Court Linkage Program Files

Mental Health Court DMH Linkage Program 1 of 2 (PDF File)
Mental Health Court DMH Linkage Program 2 of 2 (PDF File)


The Proxy Parent Foundation safeguards public benefits for disabled persons through the PLAN of California Master Pooled Trust and provides “family like” Personal Support Services for people with mental illness and other brain disorders.

The Golden State Pooled Trust is a type of special needs trust established by the North Bay Housing Coalition (NBHC) to support persons with disabilities in California. GSPT assists in preserving resources, protecting public benefits, and providing choices for individuals with disabilities in order to enhance their quality of life.

PROFESSIONAL FIDUCIARY ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA A fiduciary’s role is not merely that of business manager, decision-maker, or guardian. It is also a nurturing bond of trust, concern, and attentive care-giving. A fiduciary seeks to support mental and emotional well-being; reduce the stress of changing circumstances or unexpected events; and, most importantly, help each client, and their families, enjoy a fulfilling life.

Important Caveat: While a good fiduciary can be heaven sent and absolutely necessary, a bad fiduciary or not understanding your fiduciary’s obligations to you can have negative, even disastrous, ramifications. What a fiduciary is and what they do for you is confusing.  Just because someone is a fiduciary, carries that title, and does transactions with you, doesn’t mean they are your fiduciary at any given moment and in any given transaction. It could even be a case of sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. Some fiduciarys are not allowed any conflicts of interest.  Others merely have to disclose conflicts somewhere in the fine print.  Experts recommend that your best legal protection is to sign a specific contract outlining the fiduciary services and obligations of the fiduciary, but make sure you understand what you are contracting for.  You might start by reading this

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