-party raising issue has border of proving unfitness
-the court (judge or jury) determines whether border is met (whether accused is “fit” or “unfit”)
Assessing Fitness to Stand Trial
1. Who can make an assessment?
-Prior to 2005, only “medical doctors” could provide fitness assessments to courts (didn’t
have to be “experts” in mental disorders),
-In 2005, Part XX.1 expanded to include “other qualified professionals” (including
2. Another role of psychologists:
-Developing the tests that are used to assess fitness
3. How fitness is assessed:
-Show that person has a mental disorder, AND disorder interferes with 2 criteria in section 2.
-Fitness Interview Test — Revised (FIT-R)
-Revised to take into account the revised the 3 new criteria
-Therefore it has 3 sections:
1. Nature and object of proceedings. Includes:
-arrest process and specific charges;
-role of judge, prosecutor, defence attorney, and jury;
-court procedures (e.g. can disagree with witnesses who testify against him/her)
2. Consequences of proceedings. Includes:
-range and nature of penalties (e.g. being sent to prison, eligibility for parole)
3. Ability to communicate with counsel. Includes:
-can communicate facts of case to lawyers
-can plan (at least assist with) legal defence strategy
-can testify (if required)
-can manage courtroom behaviour
If they have problems with even just one or two of these sections, it may be enough to not be
able to stand trial.
FIT-R does not assess whether accused has a mental disorder (other tests are used for that
purpose, e.g. DSM-V)
What happens after a fitness assessment?
-Assessment report is submitted to court
-Court makes its own judgment of fitness (often court agrees, but it is not guaranteed)
-If accused is determined to be fit to stand trial, case proceeds to trial
-accused can be detained in custody if reason to believe he/she might become “unfit”
-If accused is determined to be unfit to stand trial, case is temporally stopped
-Goal is to restore fitness (using some form of “treatment”)
-In Canada, usual treatment was medication to control mental disorder (esp. pre-2005)
-Since 2005, psychological treatments are more common to achieve the criteria of fitness
-How long can this go on?