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11 Mental illness in court.docx
11 Mental illness in court.docx

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Carleton University
PSYC 2400
Jenelle Power

Mental illness in court Presumptions in Canada’s Legal System - Elements that must be present for criminal guilt: • Actus reus: Awrongful deed (the act) • Mens rea: Criminal intent (the intent to perform the act) - Must be found beyond a reasonable doubt for a guilty verdict to be reached Fitness to Stand Trial - Unfit to stand trial: An inability to conduct a defence at any stage of the proceedings on account of a mental disorder - How mental illness affects if a crime was committed and if there was intent - Whether the person can help prepare their defence – understand what’s going on • Must be coherent Fitness Standard - Unfit to stand trial if (due to mental disorder) unable to: • Understand nature or object of proceedings • Understand possible consequences of the proceedings  Must understand that they could be given a sentence • Communicate with counsel - Time limit on evaluation • 5 day limit to determine if fit to stand trial  Can be extensions, but not over 60 days - My be raised at various stages of the proceedings • Can be fit to begin with but found unfit throughout the trial process How does Canada determine who is unfit? - Only medical practitioners • Psychologists can help with assessment - Use screening tools • Then full examinations - Number of standardized tools available • Issue of ground truth  Ground truth – no reliability within the tools  What you’re measuring against  Don’t know who is unfit objectively - No parameters on the types of medical physician – even though some have more experience Fitness Instruments - Assess (example) understanding of legal proceedings, cognitive functioning, etc. - Fitness Interview Test Revised (FIT-R) - Competency Screening Test (CST) - Competency to Stand TrialAssessment Instrument (CAI) - Interdisciplinary Fitness Interview (IFI) - MacArthur CompetenceAssessment Tool-CriminalAdjudication (MacCAT-CA) Fit vs. Unfit Defendants - Unfit defendants more likely to: • Never married • Unemployed and living alone • Older females belonging to a minority group with fewer marital resources • 4X more likely to meet criteria for a psychotic disorder  Highly likely to have a severe mental disorder • Less likely to have substance abuse problems  Less substance abuse- opposite of other offenders What happens if someone is unfit? - Proceedings halted until fit • Reassessed within 45 days - Try to get the person fit- medication/treatment (ex: therapy) • Most commonly medication • Debate around right for person to refuse medication  People with serious mental disorders don’t understand their need for medication – medicine usually has lots of side-effects • Treatment orders can be imposed (forced injection) - If unlikely to become fit, court can stay proceedings according (Bill C-10) What if person doesn’t become fit? - If continues to be unfit after 90 days, get referred to review board • Assessed every two years • Once a year for youth - Prima facie case • Every 2 years or on request - Continually determine if still unfit, if fit can go to trial • But cases deter overtime so if not enough evidence after time, even if fit, case is thrown out Mental State at Time of Offence - Insanity: impairment of mental or emotional functioning that affects perceptions, beliefs, & motivations at time of offence - Legally, insanity removes the responsibility of performing an act because of uncontrollable impulses or delusions (not responsible) Brief History - Daniel M’Naughten– 1843 • Tried to shoot Sir Robert Peel, the PM of Great Britain • 1894: NGRI defence adopted in Canada  Not guilty by reason of insanity  Now use NCRMD • 1992: Bill C-30 - First time insanity was used Canadian Legislation (Bill C-30) - Insanity term changed to “not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder” (NCRMD) - “…rendered the person incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission or of knowing that it was wrong” - Review boards were created - If found NCRMD, review boards decide absolute discharge, in community but with conditions, or in psychiatric hospital Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCRMD) - No person is criminally responsible for an act or omission committed while suffering from a mental disorder that rendered that person incapable of: • Appreciating the nature and quality of the act or omission • Knowing that it was wrong - Mental disorder that affected them at the time of the crime • Relevant to the crime
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