This past August, Felicitas Flores, 22 was intoxicated when she came across an unattended police cruiser with the door open. Shortly thereafter, she would be making the news as she led police on a high-speed chase down the freeway before finally being apprehended at a rest stop in Oceanside, where she was boxed in by patrol cars. Flores didn’t give up without first trying to ram herself free, though. She was then charged with a half-dozen different felonies and held on $275,000 bail.
The charges included the theft of a police vehicle, the accompanying felony evading and three counts of assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon. Because of another conviction on her record—Flores is a documented gang member—she also faces the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. If she is convicted of these charges, Flores could spend close to 15 years in prison.
However, Flores has since pled not-guilty to all of them, citing mental illness as the real perpetrator in these crimes. According to her mother, Flores was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was just 16 and has been suffering without the help she needs. In court, her mother described Flores as “not in her right mind.”
With the preliminary hearing just starting last week, we have a long way to go before we find out if this type of defense will hold in any water in court. However, this case certainly shows why it’s so important to always have a qualified attorney’s number handy. If Flores truly is a schizophrenic, her mother probably should have sought help for her earlier, but should have certainly known that an attorney may be necessary someday. In any case, a defense that includes mental illness will take a skilled lawyer to articulate and succeed with.