Are you fit for “fitness to plead”? – One Inner Temple Lane

Posted May 8th, 2012 in fitness to plead, learning difficulties, mental health, news by sally

“The concept of ‘fitness to plead’ is often a source of confusion. It is not solely a consideration of whether the defendant is actually capable of being arraigned on the indictment. The question to be addressed is whether a defendant is fit to enter a plea and stand trial. A person may have sufficient capacity to deny the allegation that is made and yet be unable to undergo the entire trial process. The defence should not overlook the possible benefits, where properly available, to a defendant of a finding of unfitness to plead. Where the issue of fitness to plead is raised it must be determined by a Judge. The defendant ought not to be arraigned before this issue is determined. If a defendant is found unfit to plead there is a further hearing before a jury to determine whether or not he did the act or acts alleged. If unsure, the defendant will be acquitted and so he will have the advantage of challenging the Crown’s evidence. If the finding is adverse to the defendant then the Judge has the power to make a hospital order (with or without restriction), a supervision order or an absolute discharge. The defendant can be diverted from the prison system in this way.”

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One Inner Temple Lane, 1st May 2012