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Mental health and the criminal justice system

For those who work at the coalface of the criminal justice system, it is becoming quite clear that more and more people suffering from mental health problems are being prosecuted and brought before the courts for a range of criminal allegations.

15 August 2016

The fact that a person is suffering from a mental health-related issue does not necessarily mean that if
the evidence supports a prosecution, then one will not be brought. Having a mental health problem will not automatically mean that you have a blank cheque to commit criminal offences.

For instance, in relation to murder allegations, a partial defence is afforded to defendants so charged with this serious offence, to reduce the conviction to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. This is not available, for instance, on a charge of attempted murder, where the intention the prosecution has to prove is an intention to kill. The Homicide Act 1957, as amended by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, makes it clear that where a person kills or is a party to a killing, they shall not be convicted of murder if they were suffering from such abnormality of mind as substantially impaired their mental responsibi...

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