How do I get into and complete mental health diversion?

2. Apply for mental health diversion

Each courthouse has a different way of applying for mental health diversion. Ask or the mental health worker about the process at the courthouse.

No matter where you are, you can only participate in mental health diversion if the Crown agrees.

Crown agrees on a screening form

If the Crown has information about your mental health, they may suggest mental health diversion on your screening form. A screening form is a document the Crown uses at the start of your case to say how they plan to deal with your case. The Crown should give you the screening form on or before your first court date.

If you don't understand your screening form, ask the duty counsel or your lawyer to explain it.

If the Crown doesn't suggest mental health diversion on your screening form, you, your lawyer, or the mental health worker can still try to convince the Crown that you should get it.

Convincing the Crown to give you mental health diversion

When deciding if you can participate in mental health diversion, the Crown looks at:

  • how your mental health affected your actions
  • any history you have in the mental health system
  • your criminal record and outstanding charges
  • whether you come from a marginalized group, such as someone with a disability
  • whether you're an Indigenous person
  • the seriousness of your charges
  • the victim's age
  • the victim's opinion on if your charges should be diverted and if mental health diversion would be a fair outcome for your case

The Crown might ask you to get a doctor's letter to better understand your mental health before they agree to give you diversion.

The letter should be from a doctor who has treated you, like your family doctor or psychiatrist. The doctor's letter should:

  • say that they reviewed the synopsis, which is a police summary of your charges
  • state your symptoms or diagnosis, if you have one
  • confirm a connection between your mental health and your charges
  • say what treatment they suggest, for example, therapy, or medication

If you don't have a specific diagnosis, it can be helpful to get a mental health assessment from a doctor. This is where the doctor meets with you then gives their opinion about your mental health. If you have a legal aid certificate, Legal Aid may pay for your assessment.

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