Texas Criminal and Juveniles Lawyers Should Learn the Signs and Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome

In the past six months, I’ve recognized the signs of Asperger’s Syndrome in three different clients–two juveniles and one adult–who were previously undiagnosed. Asperger’s, also known as high functioning austism and is now considered part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is the result of different brain wiring.

One juvenile could not pass a polygraph test while participating in a juvenile sex offender therapy program and was looking at a determinate sentence as a result. I was able to use his subsequent diagnosis by a psychologist to keep him in the program and to waive the testing.

Another juvenile was charged with exhibition of a firearm, threatening to bring a gun to school and shoot a bully.  The juvenile is extremely intelligent, but lacks the social skills to relate to his classmates. The fact that he is very small for his age and is Asian in a school that is 95 percent Hispanic only makes matters worse for him.

The adult was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. His wife did not understand how overwhelmed he feels after a day of work and his absolute need to be alone. She would provoke him by insisting on talking things over during these times. When she would refuse to allow him some solitude to unwind, he would try to walk away from her, but she would then block him from leaving the room or even the house. Neither of them knew about the disorder,  but he always felt the need to be alone after a day of work. Her provocation led to explosive outbursts that sometimes became physical.

To fully represent a client, it important for defense attorneys to have a good understanding of mental health disorders. Asperger’s is a condition that is frequently and initially misdiagnosed as depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and others. A proper understanding of and diagnosis of Asperger’s gives the attorney a wealth of mitigating information for his case and can lead to dismissals or pretrial diversion contracts in cases where typically the accused winds up with a conviction or a deferred adjudication at best.

TBLS-Logo-tag-RI have been blessed to use my knowledge and understanding of juvenile law and psychology to save clients from painful and uncertain futures.  I am also certified in juvenile law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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