Section 32 Mental Health Orders – when can it apply?

Section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act is commonly used to divert those who suffer from mental health issues away from the criminal justice system and instead into treatment and getting the help they need. They are intended for the purpose of rehabilitation and reducing reoffending of people with a mental health condition.

Mental health conditions can include a variety of different issues including anxiety, depression, substance abuse disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders. The Act gives a broad definition of what is considered a mental health condition, that is, a mental health problem that can be treated by a psychologist or through counselling.

A section 32 may apply where a person who has a mental health condition at the time of the alleged offence occurring, or can be shown to suffer from an ongoing issue during the court proceedings.

To apply for a section 32, a report from a mental health professional such a psychologist is needed. A lawyer can assist arrange this by providing them with relevant information for preparing the report.

To be granted a section 32 order, the magistrate will need to make a decision that the section 32 order is more appropriate than the criminal justice system.

If you are granted a section 32 you will be required to abide by conditions made by the magistrate, which are tailored to your circumstances and last up to six months.

These conditions may include:

  • Abstaining from drugs and/or alcohol and consent to testing
  • Participate in counselling sessions
  • Prescribed Medication
  • Have the condition and associated medication reviewed regularly
  • Remaining in the care of a responsible person, and/or residing at a specific address

If you don’t abide by the conditions made by the Magistrate, the section 32 could be revoked and you will have to face the original charges in court

The magistrate may dismiss the charged altogether if you agree to participate in the treatment plan. Alternatively they may adjourn court proceedings until treatment is complete, or if in custody, bail may be granted to participate in treatment.

The benefit of a section 32 over a section 10 dismissal is that you are not found guilty or convicted, whereas with a section 10 there is still a finding of guilt.

If you think you might be eligible for a section 32 Mental Health Order, its important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer as the process can be complicated.

For further information and legal advice, Call Us now on 02 9708 6832 and book an initial consultation with one of our criminal lawyers.


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