Crimes (Mental Impairment)
Tabled in Parliament Date:
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 the mental impairment defence recognise the vulnerability of such people in our criminal justice system. 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. We published a consultation paper that raised a broad range of questions and concerns. The 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.
To find out which of our recommendations have become law, visit the Implementation page.
The report and consultation papers can be downloaded from the links below.
- Terms of reference received
- Submissions and consultations
- Submissions closed
- Final Report
- Tabled in parliament
Review of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to Be Tried) Act 1997: Consultation Paper (html)