Amanda Bynes’ Mental Health Assessed for DUI
Amanda Bynes’ lawyer has asked the judge in her DUI case to have her assessed for mental competency, as the actress is still apparently struggling with treatment for her erratic behavior.
Bynes’ DUI stemmed from an incident in April when she clipped a cop car on a West Hollywood highway. It was one of many charges she faced for erratic driving.
In July, she was put on a psychiatric hold in a hospital after she set a fire in a driveway near her parents’ home in Los Angeles; her parents applied for and received a temporary conservatorship of the actress’s affairs.
A hearing to make it permanent was supposed to be held at the end of September; she has reportedly been transferred to a rehab facility that is known for being friendly to celebrities.
Bynes’ lawyer on Sept. 24 reportedly told the judge hearing her DUI case that Bynes is not mentally competent to stand trial for the offense. He agreed to transfer the case to a mental health court, and the DUI will remain on hold, according to what her lawyer told E! News.
Ending up in California’s Mental Health Court, known as an “LPS Court,” takes Bynes’ mental health concerns to a whole new level.
“Usually, it is intended for severe cases for the mentally ill,” says Mina Sirkin, a probate and estate planning lawyer in Los Angeles. Only the cases of conservatees — people under a conservatorship, or the protection of a third party — who are “gravely disabled” are heard by this special court. “It is commonly used for severe alcohol and drug abuse cases,” she adds.
“A grave disability can mean that the proposed conservatee is of danger to herself or to others,” explains Sirkin. “This type of conservatorship is only initiated by the hospitals and by the public guardian. It has to have a recommendation of a physician.” Thus, Bynes’ lawyer’s request for her mental health to be assessed.
“Under this type of conservatorship, psychotropic medications can be administered to the patient without their consent, and she may be held in a locked facility against her will,” Sirkin says.
New Level of Conservatorship
Since Bynes already has a conservatorship case in progress with her parents, the question could become whether that case will be transferred to the LPS Court.
“Sometimes, judges can move the case from probate to the LPS court when the proposed conservatee is young, medication-non-compliant, and requires psychotropic medications,” Sirkin says.
In Bynes’ case, she says, “it is likely that the judge feels she is more appropriate for the LPS court, than for the probate court as to her physical and mental needs.”
In regular probate conservatorships, the conservator can’t get psychotropic medication powers unless the patient is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
And instead of the standard of “gravely disabled,” a regular conservator need only prove that the conservatee is unable to manage her own financial affairs or unable to resist fraud or undue influence, explains Sirkin.
If Bynes objects, a public defender will step in to defend her. “Any witness can testify as to her condition,” Sirkins adds. Most commonly, witnesses are the parents and the physicians.
If Bynes is declared incompetent and her case moved to the LPS Court, the DUI will remain suspended. “While the DA has a right to bring it back to court, it is very rare that they would,” Sirkin says.