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Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Saskatchewan Justice

What is Unfit to stand trial?
Unfit to stand trial means that a person is unable, on account of a mental disorder, to understand what the trial is about, the possible consequences of the trial, or to communicate with his or her lawyer. If the judge finds the accused unfit to stand trial, the matter is turned over to the Review Board for an assessment and decision.

What does the Review Board do with the person who is found unfit to stand trial?
The Review Board must hold a disposition hearing within 45 to 90 days to further assess the accused's fitness to stand trial. If the Board finds that the accused is fit to stand trial , the person returns to court for a fitness hearing. However, if the Review Board decides the accused is still unfit to stand trial, the board must make an order about the matter. Following this, the Review Board must hold a hearing at least once every 12 months to reassess the ability of the accused to stand trial. If a person is found unfit to stand trial, the accused must be returned to court within 24 months of the verdict to decide if there is still enough evidence to put the accused on trial. If the court finds there is still sufficient evidence, the accused remains under the jurisdiction of the Review Board. If there is no longer enough evidence, the court will acquit the accused.

When is a person found not criminally responsible?
A judge may find an accused person not criminally responsible if satisfied that the accused committed the criminal offence and, due to a mental disorder, the accused was unable to know or understand what they were doing, or understand that the offence was wrong. Although the accused is found to have committed the act, there is no conviction. In this situation, the court may grant the accused an absolute discharge or refer the case to the Review Board for a disposition hearing within 45 to 90 days. The board must hold a hearing to review the status of the accused at least once every 12 months until an absolute discharge is granted.

Who can attend a Review Board hearing?
Review Board hearings are usually open to the public and victims have the right to attend hearings. However, the Review Board may close the hearing to the public if it is in the interests of the accused and not contrary to the public Interest.

Where are Review Board hearings held?
Generally, hearings are held where the accused resides. If the accused is in custody in a hospital, the hearing will be held at the hospital. If the accused is out of custody, the hearing may be held at a hospital, court or at the Board's offices.

How can I find out the result of a hearing and the reasons for it?
Dispositions of the Saskatchewan Review board are public as are the reasons unless an order has been made restricting public access. You may call the review Board's office to request copies.

Who are the usual parties to a hearing?
The accused, counsel for the Attorney General and a representatives from Saskatchewan Heath and from the hospital where the accused is detained or to which the accused reports. Other persons may be designated as parties by the Review Board as required.

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