Accused Physician Seeks Admission to Mental Health Program and Drop of Charges

A doctor accused of driving a Tesla off a cliff near Pacifica in desperation to kill his family has sought participation in a mental health program that could drop all felony charges against him.

According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaff, Dharmesh Patel’s request follows what his attorneys said at Friday’s hearing that the Southern California radiologist had major depressive disorder. It was received and issued.

Such a diagnosis is key to participating in a statewide conversion program created to prevent people with mental illness from being imprisoned. At a hearing on July 31, a judge will explain the process for the 42-year-old to seek participation in the diversion program. This process may take several months.

Patel’s allegations offer a new glimpse into his mental state’s potential The day the authorities announced he tried to kill his family By driving a Tesla Model Y to the Pacific Ocean.

Investigators say Patel deliberately pushed his family off a cliff On Jan. 2, near Devil’s Slide on Highway 1, the car slammed into a 250-foot rocky beach. Patel suffered injuries to his legs and feet, his wife was even more seriously injured. A 7-year-old was seriously injured and a 4-year-old was only bruised. Both children were discharged from the hospital within a month of the accident.

Patel later Family member Tesla pleaded not guilty after claiming it had tire problems. The suspect allegedly told investigators that he stopped at three gas stations that day to inflate the rear left tire on his way to the Devil’s Slide area. He added that the car’s tire pressure sensor light had previously been on, officials said.

Patel’s wife She told investigators that her husband was “depressed.” According to court documents. Records show that she told a California Highway Patrol officer, “He’s a doctor. He said he was going to drive off a cliff. He drove off on purpose.”

Witnesses told authorities they did not appear to brake as the car veered off the highway, a testimony corroborated by footage from the Tom Lantos Tunnel, court documents show. . Investigators also said Tesla’s self-driving capability “does not appear to be a factor” in the incident.

In 2018, the state legislature established a mental health diversion program as a way for cases to be dismissed if eligible defendants successfully complete a rigorous and lengthy treatment program.

To be eligible for the program, a defendant must have been diagnosed with a mental illness directly related to the alleged crime. Mental illness must also be treatable within the duration of the diversion program, which is two years for him for felonies and one year for him for misdemeanors.

Persons accused of serious felonies, such as murder, are not eligible for this program. But the charges Patel faces (including attempted murder) do qualify.

Wagstaff said “hundreds” of people in San Mateo County apply for the program each year, and the vast majority are admitted.

Bay Area attorney and legal analyst Stephen Clark said state legislators designed the program to give people with treatable mental illnesses a second chance.

“We’d rather treat them and give them a fresh start in life as long as they don’t endanger the community in the future,” Clark said. “That’s going to be the biggest hurdle for the defense: discussing the dangers to the community that the prosecutor’s office will or might do.”

“If appropriate, Mr Patel clearly wanted to be prosecuted and held accountable,” Wagstaff said. But he acknowledged that state law allows defendants to seek diversion in such cases.

Patel’s attorney, Joshua Bentley, declined the newspaper’s request for comment.

Even if Patel wins entry into the program, it is unlikely that he will be able to practice as a doctor while receiving treatment under court supervision.

Judge in June Granted California Medical Commission’s request to ban Patel from practicing medicine while he awaits trial on the charges. In court filings, regulators argued that Mr. Patel represented an “an alarming hazard to the public” given the “cognitive impairment necessary for safe medical practice.”

A statement by the medical board on Friday said the court’s order ensured Patel would not be able to perform medical procedures “under any circumstances” while the case was ongoing.

“Until the court amends the order or the criminal case against him is closed, the ban on medical practice will continue,” the board said in a statement. Accused Physician Seeks Admission to Mental Health Program and Drop of Charges

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