There is much more to understanding the impact of mental health issues on the landscape of criminal law than the defence of “not criminally responsible” (NCR) or unfit to stand trial. Those with mental illness can easily become involved in the criminal justice system and without the right representation, they can quickly become lost in the system or simply plead guilty. It takes a keen understanding of the various assessments available to those with mental illness as well as the services and organizations available to successfully assist persons with mental illness when dealing with the criminal justice system.
Large cities like Ottawa benefit from specialized Mental Health Courts, designed to take circumstances like mental illness into account when dealing with those accused of crimes. However, even in smaller jurisdictions where such specialized courts do not exist, mental health issues should never be overlooked when navigating the criminal justice system.
Our lawyers work tirelessly to ensure that clients with mental health issues do not fall through the cracks. Clients dealing with mental health issues, either through the Mental Health Courts or through the regular stream, often require additional time and effort as well as creative strategies for dealing with their matters. We have extensive experience dealing with the NCR defence and ensuring that our clients’ mental health issues are taken into account during the court process. Our lawyers can also assist clients before the Ontario Review Board.