What happens in mental health court?

Many different criminal court proceedings can happen in mental health court. Some mental health courts deal only with assessment orders or mental health diversion. Other mental health courts do almost everything, including bail hearings, guilty pleas, judicial pre‑trials, and some trials for accused persons with mental health issues.

Mental health courts are designed to deal with accused persons who are experiencing mental health difficulties with understanding and sensitivity. Often, they are less formal than other criminal courts. Depending on the courthouse, there may be specific criteria that must be met before an accused can be sent to mental health court. For example, in some courthouses, a mental health court worker may meet with the accused and recommend that they be dealt with in mental health court before they can be transferred into that court. In other courthouses, the criteria may not be so strict.

In order to find out about the mental health court in a specific courthouse, it is best to speak with a local lawyer, duty counsel, mental health court worker or a Crown.