Mental Health Court
Annex Room E324
Hours of Operation
Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.
Honorable Marcia P. Hirsch
Supervisior / Resource Coordinator
Queens District Attorney’s Office
Office Of Alternative Sentencing
The Queens Mental Health Court (QMHC) is designed to address the mental health issues that affect a disproportionate number of defendants who are facing criminal charges in Queens County. The focus of the new court is treatment as an alternative to incarceration. In pursuit of this objective, public safety is paramount. Consequently, defendants will be closely screened for both criminal justice eligibility and clinical eligibility prior to their acceptance into the Queens Mental Health Court.
To be eligible to participate in QMHC, defendants must be 18 years of age or older at the time of referral and either a U.S. citizen or a resident alien. Defendants must be diagnosed with a serious mental illness i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, etc. Some defendants who are diagnosed with Axis II disorders, such as mental retardation, may be considered for participation in the Court. This determination will be made on a case by case basis.
Participation in the Queens Mental Health Court is voluntary. The Queens District Attorney’s Office will screen all referrals first for criminal eligibility to determine whether the defendant is an appropriate candidate for a non-jail alternative sentence.
All potential QMHC referrals should be directed to the Queens District Attorney’s Alternative Sentencing Director Douglas Knight at (718) 286-6130.
Cases may also be referred to the QMHC Resource Coordinator. All such referrals will be forwarded to the Queens District Attorney’s Office for paper eligibility.
Mental Health Eligibility
Any defendant who desires to participate in the Queens Mental Health Court will be required to undergo a mental health evaluation. In most cases, this evaluation will have been conducted prior to referring the case to the Queens District Attorney’s office. The Court will use the evaluation to make a clinical determination as to whether a defendant is a suitable candidate for participation in the program.
Every eligible participant will be assigned a court case manager who will work with the defendant to develop a proposed treatment plan. The plan will be formulated from the information in the mental health evaluation and any supplemental evaluations. The treatment plan will outline the course of treatment that the participant is expected to follow while a participant in QMHC.
All QMHC pleas will be conditional. Participants will be required to sign a plea agreement as a condition of participating in the Queens Mental Health Court. By signing this contract, the participant is agreeing to follow the treatment plan prepared by their court case manager and also to abide by the rules and regulations of the court as set down in the QMHC “Client’s Participation Handbook”.
The QMHC program will run a minimum of 12 months. The duration of the program will depend on the participant’s progress with their treatment plan.