Unfitness to plead: a consultation paper

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The Stationery Office, Oct 27, 2010 - Law - 268 pages
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This paper discusses the law on unfitness to plead or to be tried in criminal proceedings. The law on unfitness to plead is concerned with whether or not an accused is able to stand trial and, if not, the procedure that should be used to deal with that accused. Where there is an issue of unfitness to plead it is not the accused's guilt that is considered but whether they are 'under a disability' and if so the jury must determine whether or not the accused did the act or made the omission charged. In this paper the analysis of the modern law on unfitness to plead is set within the broader context of the law relating to vulnerable defendants, the Mental Health Act 1983 as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007, and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. A number of proposals are put forward, primarily that there should be a new revised single legal test which assesses whether the accused has decision-making capacity for trial. The test should not require that any decision the accused makes must be rational or wise
 

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Contents

UNFITNESS TO PLEAD
1
Structure of this consultation paper 122
7
THE EXISTING LAW
13
Summary of the statutory developments 2 42
26
The relationship between capacity and participation 2 88
43
106
50
A capacity based test 323
57
Converting a trial to a section 4A hearing 3 102
77
MISCELLANEOUS ISSUES
145
Joint trials 7 27
151
UNFITNESS TO PLEAD AND THE MAGISTRATES
160
Problems with the approach in summary hearings 8 14
163
Youth courts 8 38
170
PROVISIONAL PROPOSALS AND QUESTIONS
180
CASE STUDY
198
DATA ON FINDINGS OF UNFITNESS TO PLEAD
205

Special measures and capacity 4 16
86
The relationship between law and psychiatry 5 4
92
Finding a suitable psychiatric test 5 37
103
IMPACT ASSESMENT
234
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