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Explains what may happen if you are charged with committing a crime, what happens when you to go court, and how your mental health is taken into account.
Quite often, especially in the Crown Court, you will not be given a fixed date for trial. Instead, your case will be put into what is known as a ‘warned list’. This means that you will be given a range of dates (usually one or two weeks), and your trial could start on any day during this period.
You, or your solicitor, will only be told when your trial will start on the afternoon before. It is very important to phone your solicitor at about 4pm every day of the warned list, so you know when you have to go to court.
Here’s an outline of what will happen:
Mental health problems cannot generally be used as a defence, though they may affect your sentence if you are found guilty.
But there are some exceptions:
The court has a lot of things to think about when choosing the most appropriate outcome, including:
The court may also take other things into account such as:
If you are found guilty, the courts have a number options:
You may be able to appeal to a higher court if you disagree with your sentence or conviction. This can be a complicated process, so we recommend you get legal advice on this.
If you are charged with murder, but can show that your mental health condition made you commit the crime, the court may convict you of manslaughter instead. This is called diminished responsibility.See our full list of legal terms.
If you committed a crime, but your mental health condition meant that you did not know what you were doing, or that what you were doing was wrong, you may be able to use the defence of 'insanity'. But even if you are successful with this defence, you will not necessarily be acquitted.See our full list of legal terms.
A court may decide you're unfit to plead if it seems that you're not able to understand the court process or instruct a lawyer to represent you.See our full list of legal terms.
This information was published in July 2018. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.