Dharmesh Patel, the man accused of intentionally driving his Tesla Model Y off a cliff with his family inside, has filed a motion in San Mateo County Superior Court seeking to avoid a criminal conviction. The incident occurred in January at Devil’s Slide in California, where the white Tesla Model Y plunged 250 feet down a rocky cliff. Miraculously, all the passengers survived.
Nena Patel, the wife of Dharmesh Patel and one of the vehicle’s passengers, told rescuers that her husband had intentionally driven the Model Y off the cliff. As a result, Dharmesh Patel was arrested by the California Highway Patrol and charged with three counts of attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty in court.
In a recent development, Patel’s legal team has filed a motion arguing that his case should be moved to Mental Health Diversion Court due to his major depressive disorder. They are relying on the 2018 Mental Health Diversion Court law, which allows offenders to have their prosecutions postponed if ordered by a judge to undergo a mental health treatment program. The duration of the program cannot exceed one year for misdemeanor cases and two years for felonies.
While crimes such as murder and manslaughter are excluded from eligibility for the program, Patel is only charged with attempted murder, which is not barred. The decision of whether Patel can enter a mental health treatment program will ultimately rest with a judge. However, defense attorney Lou Shapiro believes that given the severity of the act and the potential risk to others, a judge may be less inclined to grant diversion.