I have a mental health issue and I’ve been charged with a crime. What are my options?

1. Develop a mental health bail plan

After you're charged, the police can release you from the police station with release papers that tell you when to go to court. Or, the police can take you to court for a .

A bail hearing is where a justice of the peace or a judge decides if you can be released while your criminal charges are resolved or a date is set. If you're denied , you'll be kept in while your case is ongoing.

Develop a mental health release plan

Having a good mental health release plan can convince the justice to release you. Duty counsel or your lawyer can help develop a mental health release plan.

A release plan, or mental health plan, is a document that suggests community resources to address your mental health issues while you're out on bail.

A good mental health release plan shows that your mental health won't cause you to commit any crimes while you're on bail. Your plan might include:

  • any mental health diagnoses you have
  • community mental health resources you'll access
  • community services you can use if you're experiencing a mental health crisis
  • appointments with a mental health professional, like a therapist or a social worker
  • if you need money, a plan to apply to Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program

Sharing information about your mental health

At your bail hearing, your lawyer or a lawyer can tell the justice of the peace about your mental health. Sharing this information might make you feel uncomfortable. But it's important to help the court understand how your mental health is connected to your charges, and why you should get bail.

You can tell your lawyer which details about your mental health you're comfortable sharing, and which details you want to keep private.

Mental health court workers

Some bail courts have a mental health worker. That person can help you develop your mental health release plan by telling you about mental health resources and services available in your area.

You can tell duty counsel or the justice of the peace that you want to speak to the mental health worker before your bail hearing starts.

If you're released on bail, the mental health worker can help you apply for mental health diversion.

If your mental condition stops you from understanding what's happening with your case, you may have to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist gives an opinion about whether your case should continue. This is called a fitness hearing.

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