Types of court orders
The Mental Health Court can make forensic, custody, detention, examination, non-contact, confidentiality and other orders.
This section discusses how and when the court makes examination, forensic, non-contact and confidentiality orders.
An examination order by the court orders a defendant to submit to an examination by a court-nominated psychiatrist or health practitioner, such as when existing reports don’t adequately address certain matters.
The court may make this order on its own initiative, at the recommendation of an assisting psychiatrist or following a request by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The court can admit defendants to an authorised mental health facility for the examination if necessary.
A forensic order gives authority for a person (the forensic patient) to be detained in an authorised mental health service or, in some cases, high security unit for treatment or care.
- must make a forensic order if it decides that the alleged offender was of sound mind at the time of the alleged offence but is temporarily unfit for trial
- may make a forensic order if it decides the alleged offender was either of unsound mind at the time of the alleged offence or is permanently unfit for trial
- won’t make a forensic order if it decides the alleged offender was not of unsound mind and is fit for trial, and will return the matter to the criminal courts to proceed as usual.
In deciding whether to make a forensic order, the court must consider the:
- seriousness of the offence
- person’s treatment needs
- protection of the community.
If the court doesn’t make a forensic order, it may make a non-contact order (see below) if the alleged offender has been charged with a violent offence.
A party to the proceedings may appeal against the Mental Health Court’s decision.
A non-contact order requires someone to not have contact with a stated person. The Mental Health Court can make a non-contact order only if the alleged offender was of unsound mind at the time of the offence, or is permanently unfit for trial, and the court doesn’t make a forensic order. Additionally, the person must have been charged with an indictable offence against another person.
Under a non-contact order, the offender may not contact a victim (or relative of a deceased victim or associate of a victim) for up to two years. The order may also stop the person from going to certain places for a period of up to two years.
Once the order is made, a copy is lodged with the Magistrates Court closest to the person stated on the order and sent to the Commissioner of Police, who sends it to the appropriate operational area.
Breaches of non-contact orders should be reported to the police for investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution. If the breach is intentional, a Magistrates Court can impose a penalty or vary the order.
A confidentiality order ensures the alleged offender can’t access information given to the Mental Health Court, including documents filed or received.
The court can make a confidentiality order only if disclosing the information would seriously harm the alleged offender’s health or threaten someone’s safety.
If you’re a victim of crime and believe a confidentiality order is necessary, tell the victim liaison officer at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. If the court makes the order, the material must still be given to the alleged offender’s legal representatives.
The alleged offender can be fined for breaching a confidentiality order without a reasonable excuse.