What does “fit to stand trial” mean?

5. Understand what happens if you’re still unfit

If the judge decides you're still unfit after a treatment order, your case goes to the (ORB). The members of the ORB are experts in psychiatry and the law.

Sometimes the court makes a temporary decision about your case before sending it to the ORB. But the ORB makes the final decision.

If you are in when the judge sends your case to the ORB, you may try to get . If you get bail, you won't have to wait in custody while you wait for the ORB .

You have the right to a lawyer at the ORB hearing. If you don't have one, you can apply for a legal aid certificate to hire any lawyer you choose. The ORB can also appoint a lawyer or you.

Possible ORB outcomes

The ORB decides if you're fit, unfit, or permanently unfit. They consider:

  • protecting the public
  • your mental condition
  • whether you can be rehabilitated

The ORB can order a doctor to assess you to update your medical information.

The ORB must meet to listen to your case within 45 days of when the court decides you are unfit. But if the court made a temporary decision, the ORB has 90 days to listen to your case.

Sometimes, by the time the ORB gets your case, your fitness has changed. If you're now fit to stand , the ORB sends your case back to the court for the judge to consider your fitness again.

If the ORB decides that you're unfit to stand trial, they will do one of these things:

  • Release you from the hospital with rules to follow. This is called a .
  • Keep you at the hospital with rules you must follow. This is called a .

If you’re permanently unfit

The ORB can decide that you will never be fit to stand trial. For example, if you suffer from a brain injury, or if there's no medication to treat your condition.

If the ORB decides you're permanently unfit, the Crown can ask the judge to stay your charges. A stay means the judge puts your case on hold. It is rare for your case to be reopened after your charges are . If the Crown does not reopen your case within one year, then it is finished forever and can't be reopened.

The judge is more likely to stay your charges if:

  • you aren't dangerous
  • your charges aren't too serious
  • it's been a long time since your case began

The Crown must ask the judge to dismiss your charges if there is not enough to prove you're guilty. For example, if the Crown's witnesses are no longer available.

If your charges are not stayed or dismissed, then at least once every 2 years there will be another hearing to see if there is still enough evidence to keep your case active. If not, your case will be dismissed.


You have the right to challenge:

  • a judge's decision that you're unfit
  • a treatment order
  • an ORB decision

You should talk to a lawyer to get help with these challenges.

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