Crimes (Mental Impairment)

The courts frequently deal with people charged with offences who require a special response from the law due to their serious mental impairment, intellectual disability or mental illness. The legal principles behind 'unfit to stand trial' and 'not guilty because of mental impairment' recognise the vulnerability of such people in our criminal justice system, and the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Fitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (Vic) (CMIA) balances their rights for humane treatment and the community's right for safety.

In August 2012, the Commission was asked to review the Act to ensure just, effective and consistent operation with the principles that underlie it. After preliminary research, the inquiry published a consultation paper that raised a broard range of questions and concerns. Its call for responses prompted 34 public submissions. On 18 September 2013, the Attorney-General provided supplementary terms of reference that asked the Commission to consider the operation of the CMIA in the Children’s Court.

Tabled in Parliament on 21 August 2014, the Commission’s report made 107 recommendations for legislative reform, including:  

• revising and clarifying the legal tests for unfitness to stand trial and the defence of mental impairment, including adding a definition of mental impairment to the law


• extending the application of the law in the Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court


• extending the role of juries in determining the defence of mental impairment and reducing complexity in the content of jury directions under the law


• improving how community interests are represented in court hearings

• improving the level of support provided to, and acknowledgment of, victims and family members in cases under the law 

• strengthening the decision making framework for review, leave and release of people subject to indefinite supervision orders

• establishing a new youth forensic facility for treating and supervising young people and a new medium-secure forensic mental health hospital

• ensuring there is equal treatment of people with an intellectual disability or other cognitive impairment under the supervision regime.

The report and consultation papers can be downloaded from the links below.

Timeline

Current: Table in parliament

Full timeline:

Reference
Consultation
Submissions
Final report
Tabled in parliament
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Project Publications

Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997: Report (pdf)

Tabled in Parliament on 21 August 2014, the Commission's report on the review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (...

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Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 - Report (html)

Tabled in Parliament on 21 August 2014, the Commission's report on the Review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997...

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Crimes (Mental impairment): Received submissions

The Commission received 34 submissions to its review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 and those below are...

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Review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997: Consultation Paper (html)

The consultation paper concerns the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act. The consultation paper describes the current law in...

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Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 and the Children's Court of Victoria: Supplementary consultation paper (pdf)

On 24 September 2013, the Commission received supplementary terms of reference from the Attorney-General for its review of the Crimes (Mental...

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Crimes (Mental Impairment): Factsheet

This fact sheet covers the basic facts about the current laws relating to crimes and mental impairment in Victoria, including unfitness to be tried...

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Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997: Consultation Paper (pdf)

After preliminary research, the Commission produced this consultation paper of their review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to...

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Crimes (Mental Impairment): Consultation Paper - Easy English version

This is an Easy English version of the consultation paper for the review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act.

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Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 and the Children's Court of Victoria: Supplementary consultation paper (html version)

On 24 September 2013, the Commission received supplementary terms of reference from the Attorney-General for its review of the Crimes (Mental...

Read more here

Crimes (Mental Impairment): Terms of reference

On 17 August 2012, the Attorney-General asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review and report on changes to the Crimes (Mental Impairment...

Read more here

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