Recently, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that 40% of convicted Australians identified as having previously received a mental illness diagnosis. And alarmingly, further studies highlighted that approximately one in five mentally ill Australians will come into contact with the criminal justice system at least once in their life. (aihw.gov.au/)
For most of us, these statistics will raise many questions. Before we delve deeper, let’s brush up on the facts.
A lot of conditions fall under the umbrella of the ‘mental illness’ term. Most notable are depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. “The Mental Health Act 2000 (Qld) (MHA) defines mental illness as a condition characterised by a clinically significant disturbance of thought, mood, perception or memory.” (legalaid.qld.gov.au) These conditions alter the way a person interacts within society, not only adding a level of hazard to regular day-to-day activities but also effects the way criminal charges are handled.
When talking criminal charges where mental health is a clear factor, things like ‘unsoundness of mind’ and ‘fitness for trial’ will be considered.
How To Navigate the Blurred Lines of Mental Health and Criminal Offences
“How do you assist a loved one with a mental illness who has been diagnosed with a criminal offence?”
Every court works in different ways, every case is unique, and each mentally ill person will have varying levels of severity within their mental illness. So - hiring an experienced criminal law firm to receive credible legal advice is always paramount, and the best way to assist your loved one.
“Can my mental illness excuse me from facing criminal charges?”
In some cases, the Magistrate may dismiss your charges in exchange for a treatment plan or ‘examination order’ as an alternative.
They’ll have to take into consideration quite a few things, such as:
• offence severity
• history of offences
• your specific condition severity
• if the link between your condition and the alleged charge is strong or weak
• and whether the treatment will be effective for your condition • and more Once again, as every case is individual – it really comes down to the law firm that you seek guidance from. Make sure to select one with a proven track record and success rate in Criminal Law, like Creevey Russell Lawyers.
“Why is there such a strong link between mental illness and criminal charges?”
Is it on the part of the individual or those handling the cases? All that there is to note, is research suggests patients with mental illness may be more prone to violence if they do not receive adequate treatment. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
In terms of the handling of those in mention: there has been a push for enhanced mental health plans and support across Australia. And of course, the type of support you seek legally is always a game changer.
First Class Criminal Law Services in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Roma.
With over 50+ years of experience in Criminal Law, Creevey Russel Lawyers regularly appear in Magistrate, District, and Supreme Courts across Queensland for pleas of guilty and trials.
We’re here for you. For around the clock service, please do not hesitate to contact our 24/7 Crime Hotline on 1800-CRIME-LAW (1800 2746 3529). Giving you the representation, you need.
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