Understanding and Handling Police Interactions and “Mental Health” Court Options in Allegheny County
Kate Lovelace, Esquire
Saturday, March 11, 2017
1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
AOTA, Act 48, and Social Workers Credits Available
Autism Connection of PA
35 Wilson Street #101
Pittsburgh, PA 15223
Sometimes it can be difficult to know when and how to contact an attorney if an autistic person has an interaction with police. It is important to understand your rights regardless of any diagnosis, but especially critical to have an opportunity to get legal and procedural advice from someone other than the arresting officer. Many officers in Allegheny County have been trained in tips for dealing with autistic people, many have not and some simply do not understand the role autism might play into confessions, competency, and other legal matters. Take an opportunity to ask questions, pose scenarios, and listen to stories of how autism has played into criminal charges and what options lie ahead for those defendants. To that extent, there are a variety of "mental health" options in Allegheny County. While some options may be appropriate, there is often a misconception about Mental Health Court, which is almost never appropriate for a person with autism. Learn more about Competency, Justice Related Services, Mental Health Court, and Torrance Hospital, and the Behavioral Assessment Unit (or Behavior Clinic) at the Allegheny County Jail.
Kate Lovelace is an attorney and advocate licensed to practice law in Colorado since 2005 and Pennsylvania since 2009. Born in Buffalo, NY, Kate moved to Pittsburgh with her family in 1980 and, despite travels for education and fun, returned to Pittsburgh in 2006 where she now works as a private attorney and resides with her husband, Webster, and 2-year-old twins, Wally and Betty Lou.
Kate graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999 with a BS in Social Policy. She went on to attend the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon where she earned her Master's in Public Management with highest academic distinction.
Prior to attending University of Denver Law School (J.D. 2005), Kate worked as a TSS at Pressley Ridge Schools Center for Autism, Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, and Allegheny County Department of Human Services. Since becoming a lawyer, she has worked in Medicare law, regulatory compliance, and eventually landed her dream job at the Allegheny County Public Defender's Office, where, in addition to adult trial court, she worked in Juvenile Delinquency and Mental Health Civil Commitments.
In 2016, Kate left the public defender's office and now has a small private practice doing primarily criminal defense. In the Spring of 2017, she will begin a new part-time role supervising law students at the Duquesne University School of Law in both the Juvenile Delinquency and Education Law clinics. She is also on the board of Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation.
At the conclusion of this program participants will be able to:
- discuss the ways autism may play into criminal charges
- talk about what options may exist for autistic defendants
- define competency