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Mental Health Court

Assessment criteria

For legal aid to be granted to be represented in the Mental Health Court in relation to criminal charges the following tests must be satisfied:

Documentary requirements

Application received from client

Applicants seeking a grant of legal assistance should forward all of the following documents for assessment:

  • A completed and signed Legal Aid Queensland application form.
  • Proof of income and assets (refer to the means test).
  • Copies of any relevant court documentation.

Application received from preferred supplier or in-house practitioners

Practitioners seeking a grant of legal assistance should electronically submit an application for aid via the Grants Online System along with:

  • copies of any relevant court documentation.
  • proof of income and assets (refer to the means test).

Practitioners must also ensure that the following documents are retained on file:

  • A completed and signed Legal Aid Queensland application form.

Interpretation

A reference can only be made to the Mental Health Court where a person is charged with a serious offence, other than an offence against a law of the Commonwealth, and there is reasonable cause to believe that the person:

  • was of unsound mind when the offence was allegedly committed; or
  • is unfit for trial.

A serious offence means an indictable offence, other than an offence that is a relevant offence under the Criminal Code, section 552BA (4).

Allocation of a solicitor

Representation in the Mental Health Court will be provided on an in-house basis by the mental health section of Legal Aid Queensland unless there is a conflict of interest.

Should a preferred supplier currently have a grant of aid to represent a client in another court, the preferred supplier is requested to:

  1. Raise the matter with the mental health section of Legal Aid Queensland to see if they consider the applicants matter should be referred to the Mental Health Court.
  2. If a psychiatric report is required, the practitioner must obtain prior approval from Legal Aid prior to any report being commissioned.
  3. Make no reference to the Mental Health Court without the prior approval of Legal Aid as all references to the Mental Health Court are made only by the Public Defender. If the practitioner considers that extra-ordinary circumstances exist which requires a reference to be made by someone other than the Public Defender, that practitioner should first contact the mental health section of Legal Aid Queensland to discuss whether that course is appropriate.

Grant(s) of aid

The grant of aid to investigate prospects of referral to the Mental Health Court is a MHCI.

The grant of aid to appear and represent a client before the Mental Health Court is a MHC.

Extension(s) of aid

The grant of aid to attend additional days in the Mental Health Court is a MHC1.

Review of decisions

A decision to refuse legal aid for this type of matter may be appealed to the external review officer (refer to review of decisions).

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