What happens if the police arrest a person with mental health issues, and take them to jail and court?

Depending on the situation, the police may charge a person who has mental health issues with a criminal offence and hold them for bail.

A person who has been charged with a criminal offence is called an accused. An accused with mental health issues does have a right to a bail hearing, but sometimes they can be ordered by a judge to be assessed by a psychiatrist before their bail hearing occurs. In other situations, the accused may be assessed after they plead guilty or are found guilty after a trial. Some assessments may occur right in the courthouse (if there’s a psychiatrist available), but usually the person is sent to a secure psychiatric hospital.

Most of the time, judges are very careful about making psychiatric assessment orders and do not order them readily. This is true even if an accused is suffering from psychosis, delusions, or is acting in a way that many people would consider to be strange. Simply acting strange or being poorly groomed is usually not enough to be sent for an assessment. In most cases, the Crown or the accused’s lawyer (or duty counsel) may ask for a psychiatric assessment. In some situations, the judge may order an assessment even if it’s not asked for. In all cases, the judge decides whether or not an accused person is sent for an assessment.