The courts and mental health

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.

Your stories

Who would believe me?

Kerry
Posted on 07/10/2013

“I didn’t even know what sectioning meant.”

Dan talks about his experience of being sectioned under the Mental Health Act after experiencing psychosis.

Dan Miller
Posted on 04/06/2019

Section 37 hospital order

What is a section 37 hospital order?

A section 37 is an order to send you to hospital instead of prison. A Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court can make this order if it thinks that a hospital order is the most appropriate way of dealing with your situation.

The Crown Court or Magistrates’ Court can give you a hospital order if:

  • you've been charged with or convicted of an offence which could lead to a prison sentence
  • two doctors have given evidence that
    • you have a mental disorder that means you should be in hospital for treatment, and
    • appropriate treatment is available
  • the court decides that a hospital order is the most suitable method of dealing with your case, and
  • arrangements have been made for you to go to hospital within 28 days of the order.

If the court thinks that you are a high risk to the public it can add restrictions to the hospital order, known as a section 37/41.

How long will I be in hospital?

A section 37 lasts six months initially, but this can be extended ('renewed') by your responsible clinician.

It must be renewed:

  • after the first six months
  • again after a second six months
  • and then yearly.

There is no limit to the number of times section 37 can be renewed.

If it’s not renewed, the section 37 will end, and you will be free to leave hospital if you want to.

How can a hospital order be renewed?

In order to renew the hospital order, your responsible clinician must see you, consult with another professional and send a report to the hospital managers saying that they think the hospital order should be renewed.

The hospital managers will likely have a hearing to decide whether the hospital order should be extended. You will be able to attend if you don’t agree.

How can I be discharged from hospital?

There are different ways you might be discharged from hospital:

Once you are discharged from section 37, you will be eligible for free section 117 aftercare.

When can I apply to the Mental Health Tribunal?

You can’t apply in the first six months of the hospital order. You should check the date of the order.

You can apply:

  • once in the second six months, then
  • once every year after that.

It doesn’t matter when the hearing takes place – it’s the date of the application that must be within these periods.

See our pages on leaving hospital for more information about the Mental Health Tribunal.

When must the Mental Health Tribunal discharge me?

The Mental Health Tribunal must discharge you if:

  • they don’t think you have a mental disorder which means you should be in hospital for treatment
  • they don’t think it's necessary for your health or safety, or for the protection of others, for you to get treatment, or
  • appropriate treatment is not available for you.

Once you are discharged from section 37, you will be eligible for free section 117 aftercare.

See our pages on leaving hospital for more information about the Mental Health Tribunal.

Can I appeal the hospital order?

You may be able to appeal the court’s decision to give you a hospital order as opposed to some other outcome, such as a prison sentence.

From the Magistrates’ Court you can appeal to the Crown Court, and from the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal. Here is a flowchart that outlines this process:

 

Appealing Court Decisions 

You should get legal advice from your solicitor if you want to make an appeal.


This information was published in July 2018. We will revise it in 2020.


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