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Not Criminally Responsible assessments
Not Criminally Responsible assessments

What does NCR mean?

NCR stands for “Not Criminally Responsible.” It is defined in section 16 of the Criminal Code. Section 16 of the Criminal Code states that a person is not criminally responsible for something that he or she did (or didn’t do, if they were legally required to do something) if they were suffering from a mental disorder at the time, and:

  • the mental disorder made it impossible for him/her to understand the nature and quality of what they did; OR
  • the mental disorder made it impossible for them to understand that what they did was morally wrong (not just legally wrong).


What is an NCR assessment?

An NCR assessment can be ordered by a judge to determine whether a person who was suffering from a mental disorder at the time they committed an offence was criminally responsible for his or her actions.

Much like a fitness assessment, in most cases the person being assessed is sent to a secure psychiatric facility for the assessment. In some cases, an NCR assessment and a fitness assessment are done at the same time.

Unlike a fitness assessment, which is concerned with finding out what a person’s current mental state is, an NCR assessment is done to determine the person’s mental state at the time they committed an offence. An NCR assessment can occur while a person is in or out of custody.

When will an NCR assessment usually be requested?

If an NCR assessment is requested by either the Crown or the accused’s lawyer, it will usually be after the accused has pled guilty or has been found guilty after a trial, and there is some evidence to suggest that they were suffering from a mental disorder at the time they committed a criminal offence.

However, in some cases, an accused’s lawyer may ask for an NCR assessment even though their client has not pled guilty or been found guilty after a trial.

Can duty counsel assist with getting an NCR assessment order?

No. There are too many serious long-term consequences that can come from an NCR assessment for duty counsel to assist with this type of matter.

If either an unrepresented accused or the Crown is seeking an NCR assessment, duty counsel will not assist. An accused should have his or her own lawyer if this situation occurs. If the accused cannot afford a lawyer, they may qualify for a legal aid certificate or the court may appoint a lawyer to assist them and/or the court. Duty counsel may be able to assist with the process of getting a lawyer, but they will not represent the accused in an NCR matter.

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