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

Terms of reference

[Matter referred to the Commission pursuant to section 5(1)(a) of the Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000 (Vic) on 17 August 2012.]

The Victorian Law Reform Commission is asked to review and report on the desirability of changes to the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act 1997 (CMIA) to improve its operation.

The review should examine the operation of the CMIA and consider whether changes are needed to ensure that the CMIA operates justly, effectively and consistently with the principles that underlie it.

In particular, the Commission should consider whether:

• the CMIA should define ‘mental impairment’ and, if so, how it should be defined;

• the process of determining fitness to stand trial can be improved;

• the application of the CMIA should be further extended to the Magistrates’ Court, for example:

• whether the process for determining fitness to stand trial should be adapted for use in the Magistrates’ Court;

• whether the CMIA should permit the Magistrates’ Court to make supervision orders or other orders appropriate to the jurisdiction, rather than being required to discharge the accused if the accused is found not guilty because of a mental impairment; and

• if the Magistrates’ Court is permitted to make additional orders, whether this should be limited to indictable offences that are heard and determined summarily or extended to also include certain summary offences;

• legislative clarification is required as to how the law should provide for the jury to approach the elements of an offence and, any defences or exceptions, when the defence of mental impairment is in issue; and

• changes should be made to the provisions governing supervision and review, including the frequency, form and conduct of reviews and the arrangements for consideration and representation of the various interests involved, including the interests of the community.

In undertaking this reference, the Commission should have regard to the cost implications of recommendations, including the costs of supervision and of treatment services.

The Commission should also have regard to any recommendations that may be made by the Parliamentary Law Reform Committee in its Inquiry into Access to and Interaction with the Justice System by People with an Intellectual Disability and their Families and Carers.

The Commission is to report by 31 March 2014.

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