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The courts and mental health

Explains what may happen if you're charged with committing a crime, what happens when you to go court, and how your mental health is taken into account.

Where will I wait for my trial?

If your case goes to trial, the court will have to decide whether you should be:

  • Allowed to go home on bail
  • Allowed to go to a different address on bail
  • Kept in prison on remand
  • Sent to hospital for a report on your mental health

If you’re already in hospital for your mental health, the court may decide that you should stay there.

What happens if I'm given bail?

If you're given bail, this means you'll be allowed to stay in the community while your trial is going on.

While you’re on bail, you will sometimes have to go to court. You may also be given conditions while you’re on bail, such as:

  • Living in a certain place
  • Staying indoors during certain hours of the day or night
  • Not having any contact with certain people
  • Being assessed or treated for your mental health

It's important to keep to your bail conditions, and to attend court when you’re asked to. If you don't, the court can take your bail away. This means you’ll be arrested and sent to prison on remand.

What will the courts consider when deciding whether to give bail?

This will depend on the court and the type of offence you’re charged with. In general, the court will consider:

  • The seriousness of your offence
  • Your character and any previous convictions
  • The risk of you running away or causing harm while on bail


Cheryl is charged with theft. She also has a history of depression.

At the first hearing at the Magistrates’ Court, Cheryl asks if she can be given bail to live at home while the trial progresses. The court agrees because this is Cheryl’s first offence. It decides that the risk of her running away is low.

Cheryl is given a condition to have an assessment of her mental health. She’s told that she must come back to court for the next hearing.

What happens if I'm on remand?

Remand means that you aren’t given bail. You must stay in prison until your trial begins, and during your trial.

You should be able to get treatment for your mental and physical health while in prison. But if you need urgent treatment for your mental health while on remand, the Ministry of Justice can transfer you to hospital later under section 48 of the Mental Health Act.

What happens if I'm sent to hospital?

The Magistrates' Court or Crown Court can send you to hospital for a report on your mental health before your trial. They can only do this if the offence you’re being tried for may result in a prison sentence. This would be under section 35 of the Mental Health Act.

The report can give the court evidence about:

The courts can only do this if they have evidence from a doctor that:

  • You may be experiencing a ‘mental disorder
  • It wouldn’t be possible to make the report if you were on bail

This order lasts for 28 days. But it can be renewed by the courts for up to 12 weeks.

This information was published in April 2024. We'll revise it in 2027.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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