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In March 2017, the Mental Health Act 2016 came into effect.

A Magistrates Court may dismiss a complaint for a simple offence if the court is reasonably satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the person charged with the offence was or appears to have been of unsound mind when the offence was alleged to have been committed, or is unfit for trial.

A “simple offence” is one, whether indictable or not, which is punishable on summary conviction before a Magistrates Court by fine, imprisonment of otherwise.

A “person is of unsound mind” if they are suffering a state of mental disease or natural mental infirmity as described in the Criminal Code Section 27(1).

That section provides that a person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission if at the time of doing the act or making the omission, the person is in such a state of mental disease or natural mental infirmity as to:

– Deprive the person of the capacity to understand what the person was doing; or
– Deprive the person of the capacity to control the person’s actions; or
– Deprive the person of the capacity to know that the person ought not to do the act or make the omission.

The Criminal Code provides that these provisions apply to the case or a person whose mind is disordered by intoxication or stupefaction caused without intention on his/her part by drugs, intoxicating liquor or any other means.

This means that applications can now be made to the Magistrates Court for charges to be dismissed on the basis that the accused person was of unsound mind or is unfit for trial.

Our office has experienced lawyers who can assist in these matters. If you are seeking advice please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free initial consultation.