I have a mental health issue and I’ve been charged with a crime. What are my options?
Question & AnswerI have a mental health issue and I’ve been charged with a crime. What are my options?
2. Ask the Crown for mental health diversion
Most mental health courts deal with mental health diversion. Usually, mental health diversion means that the Crown will withdraw your charges if you show that you're effectively dealing with your mental health issues. This often means that you participate in a program through the mental health court or you get treatment for your mental health.
The purpose of is to help people improve their mental health issues instead of punishing them.
Accessing mental health diversion
Each courthouse has a different way of applying for mental health diversion. But no matter where you are, you can only participate in mental health diversion if the Crown agrees. If the Crown hasn't offered mental health diversion, you or your lawyer can try to convince the Crown that you should get it.
Mental health diversion is voluntary. If you prefer the regular court process, you don't have to participate in mental health diversion. The Crown can't force you to take mental health diversion.
To get mental health diversion, you don't have to or have a . But you must admit that you have a mental health issue. And you must also agree to take responsibility for the crime you're charged with.
As part of the program, you also agree to do work in the community to better your mental health. If you complete this work, your charges are .
You don't have to talk about your diagnosis or other personal health information in court to get mental health diversion. Instead, you can give this information privately to your mental health court worker, , or your lawyer. Then they can share the information with the Crown.
Mental health diversion is only for minor charges
Mental health diversion is only for people charged with minor offences. These are crimes that don't involve serious violence or large amounts of money. Examples of minor crimes include:
- theft under $5,000
- mischief under $5,000
- having small amounts of drugs for personal use
- minor assaults
- not following court orders
- not showing up for court
You can't participate in mental health diversion for violent crimes, crimes that have children as victims, driving offences, or other serious charges.