Legal Aid Queensland will consider funding an independent psychiatric report in criminal law matters where:
- The client has been charged with a serious offence, and
- The applicant has been provided with funding for the substantive committal or higher court criminal law proceedings
- The legal practitioner is wishing to refer the matter to the Mental Health Court, and
- The report is likely to substantiate a defence to the charges on the basis of insanity, unsoundness of mind or fitness for trial, and
- The request meets the merits test.
- The client has been charged with a simple offence, and
- The applicant has been provided with funding for the substantive summary criminal law proceedings, and
- An assessment has been conducted by the Queensland Health Court Liaison Service and they have determined that the person:
- is currently fit for trial, and
- was of sound mind for all charges, and
The legal practitioner representing the client provides clear reasons as to why they think the first report was wrong, and
The legal practitioner representing the client is able to justify why a second report is needed, and
- The request meets the merits test.
Limited funding may be available for a client’s treating psychiatrist to prepare a letter for mitigation in sentence in circumstances where a referral to the Mental Health Court / request for Magistrate to dismiss charges under s 172 of the Mental Health Act is not appropriate.
If the number of hours sought by the psychiatrist exceeds 12 hours the matter will be referred to a Senior Grants Officer for consideration.
If the report writer refuses to accept the scale of fees to prepare the report or appear as a witness, the request will be referred to a Grants Manager for consideration.
Requests for an interstate report writer are determined by the Assistant Director Grants.
Extension of aid requests received from preferred supplier or in-house practitioner
Practitioners seeking a grant of legal assistance should electronically submit an extension of aid request via the Grants Online system and complete the psychiatric report to examine mental health issues checklist.
The practitioner should also include details of the number of hours sought to prepare the report. The practitioner must also provide information to support the merits test.
Serious offence means an indictable offence, other than an offence that is a relevant offence under the Criminal Code, section 552BA(4).
Simple offence means any offence (indictable or not) punishable, on summary conviction before a Magistrates Court, by fine, imprisonment, or otherwise.
Summary jurisdiction funding restrictions for psychiatric reports
Legal Aid Queensland will not normally fund an independent psychiatric report if the charges cannot be referred to the Mental Health Court (eg simple offences under s 4 of the Justices Act and commonwealth offences). This is because Magistrate can request a mental health assessment by the Queensland Health Court Liaison Service.
The Queensland Health Court Liaison Service is based at a number of court locations throughout Queensland. In circumstances where clinicians do not physically attend particular court locations, local mental health teams will be called upon to conduct the assessment (if available) or alternative arrangements such as video conference may be arranged.
In circumstances where a practitioner requests an independent psychiatric assessment, the assessing officer should request a copy of the:
- Mental health, fitness and soundness assessment Court liaison service report, or
- Mental health, fitness for trial assessment Court liaison service report
If the assessing officer is satisfied that the legal practitioner has attempted to obtain a report from the Court Liaison Service they can then determine whether it is an appropriate expenditure of limited public funds to obtain a second report.
Grant(s) of aid
The grant of aid for a psychiatric report is MS2