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Why aren’t Mental Health Act examinations used more often in criminal court?

Hospitals and psychiatric facilities are often full or nearly full of patients, so it is usually difficult to get a facility to agree to examine the accused. Also, fitness assessments and not criminally responsible assessments are often given priority at facilities over Mental Health Act (MHA) examinations.

Unlike other types of assessments (such as fitness assessments), the statements made to the examining psychiatrist during a MHA examination may not be “protected statements.” This means that the statements made by the accused to the psychiatrist could be used against the accused person if the matter went to a trial. This might be a reason why an accused’s lawyer would not want to ask for this type of assessment.

Mental health: