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Mentally Disordered Accused

It is essential that accused persons be able to understand the proceedings against them and cooperate with counsel in their own defence.

If there is evidence that, due to a mental disorder, an accused is unable to do this, that person must be considered unfit to stand trial. In these cases, accused persons will be ordered to participate in an assessment and treatment, usually in a psychiatric facility. When the accused is considered to be fit, the legal proceeding goes ahead as it would in any other case.

However, if the accused was suffering from a serious mental illness at the time the offence was committed, the accused may not have the mental capacity to form the necessary intention to commit the offence. In those circumstances, evidence is presented about the accused person’s mental state at the time of the alleged offence and the court may find the accused 'not guilty by reason of mental disorder' or 'not criminally responsible due to mental disorder'. The accused person is not free to go, but rather, comes under the authority of The British Columbia Review Board and receives treatment and regular reviews of his or her mental condition.

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