What is a Section 32?
Section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 allows a Court to deal with a summary offence without conviction on the basis that a mental health treatment plan in the community is a better option.
It allows the Local Court to divert people with mental health issues out of the criminal justice system. The order will have the effect of dismissing the charges with neither a guilty or not guilty finding on the basis that a community-based mental health treatment plan is followed.
How do you get a Section 32?
A section 32 application is usually made by the lawyer representing you in Court. However, it can be raised by any party to the proceedings.
A magistrate may also suggest that consideration should be given to a Section 32 during the proceedings at any point in time.
The granting of a Section 32 order is entirely at the Court’s discretion, and a wide range of factors can be taken into consideration.
Punishment -V- Treatment
In making their decision, the Court needs to balance two things. The public interest in a convicted person facing the full weight of the law versus the public interest in diverting and treating a person with mental health issues through a mental health care plan.
Magistrates will not usually grant a Section 32 order unless they are satisfied that the defendant will receive the appropriate treatment necessary to ensure they will not re-offend.
An application for a Section 32 usually includes a detailed care plan from a psychologist or psychiatrist as a fundamental part of the documents to be put before the Court.
Preparation is everything
If you are considering a section 32 application, it is imperative that you give your solicitor sufficient notice of your intentions.
An experienced mental health professional needs to prepare a report which outlines the mental health conditions diagnosed, and develop an appropriate treatment plan that will satisfy the Court.
Many Section 32 applications fail because the report and treatment plan prepared by the health professional is seen to be deficient by the Court.
The Magistrate has an overall discretion when considering a Section 32 application and will reject the application outright if they believe that there is insufficient information before the Court on a diagnostic basis to support the proposed treatment plan.
Who can apply for a section 32?
Those eligible for Section 32 diversion include persons suffering –
- A developmental disability
- A mental condition for which treatment is available in a health facility
- A mental illness
Some mental health conditions that may be applicable include –
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- Bipolar Disorder
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Intellectual Disabilities
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
We are here to help
If you have been charged with a criminal offence and believe you have a mental health condition, it is essential to have your case assessed by an experienced lawyer.
Fourtree Lawyers have extensive experience representing clients with mental health issues. We will ensure you are assessed by a psychologist or psychiatrist experienced in writing Section 32 mental health reports and effective treatment and care plans.
Contact our Central Coast Lawyers on 1300 529 444 as soon as possible for a free initial consultation and assessment of your case.
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“Kevin and Jane were my “knights in shining armour.” I can’t thank these two people enough. They gave their everything and most important believed me when I told them my story. I am forever grateful for their professional attitude and for giving 100% to free me from my nightmare. I was able to plead guilty but also most importantly was not forced to lie and compromise my integrity and own personal values and standards. I was very happy with the outcome and the way I was treated. They communicated constantly...
Had the most amazing experience with Fourtree Lawyers kevin vierboom who represented my partner was helpful and understanding and we got a great result better then expected ? jane hogan, I was so blessed to have her by my side. They are an amazing team and i would recommend them to everyone also great value for money. Especially considering i only called the morning of the court case and they were all over it at my bek and call thankyou so much guys im so appreciative for all your help today
I was lucky enough to have Kevin take my case and am truly grateful for the services he and his team provided. From the outset, I was made to feel comfortable and knew from the first time meeting with them that they would go above and beyond to get the best possible outcome and that is exactly what they did. Fourtree Lawyers provides exceptional service with outstanding results and I would recommend Kevin to anyone and everyone who is in need of these services.
Section 32 - Common Assault, Stalk Intimidate - Gosford Local Court
Our client was a 42 year old male, the father of a young child who was embroiled in a family law dispute. He had been retired from the Police Force with PSTD after a distinguished career of service to the community. He was charged with common assault and stalk intimidate after a misunderstanding during an arranged parenting handover.
He strenuously denied the allegations and after all of the aspects of the case were considered solicitor Kevin Vierboom made a Section 32 Application under the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990. After hearing extensive oral and written submissions and consideration of a detailed psychiatric report, Magistrate Brennan allowed the section 32 application and dismissed the charges on the condition that our client enters into treatment under the care of his psychologist.
Section 32 – drive vehicle under influence of drugs 1st off, 2 x possess prohibited drug – Sydney Downing Centre Court
Our client, a 39 year-old-male who lives on the Central Coast was charged with drive vehicle under influence of drugs 1st off and 2 x possess prohibited drug. The maximum penalties for these offences are 9 months imprisonment, a fine of $2,200.00 and an automatic licence disqualification for the period of 12 months; and 2 years imprisonment and a fine of $2,200.00 respectively.
Our client served in the Australian army overseas. Our client suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and anxiety as a result of the trauma he experienced in the army. These mental health conditions influenced our client’s offending behaviour; our client is otherwise a person of good character.
Our Solicitor and Counsel Justine Hopper worked together in this matter. Counsel made extensive submissions with regard to the objective seriousness of the offence, the need to protect the community from further criminal conduct and our client’s subjective circumstances including his mental health concerns.
The Magistrate was of the view that the matter should be dismissed and ordered that our client be discharged into the care of his doctor in accordance with section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990.
There was no finding of guilt and no criminal conviction recorded