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Forensic patient - mental health legislation

No definition of ‘forensic patient’ (or an equivalent term) is found in legislation from the Commonwealth of Australia or South Australia.

The main Commonwealth provisions governing persons who are not guilty by reason of mental illness or unfit to stand trial are set out in the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) Part IB.

The main South Australian provisions governing persons who are not guilty by reason of mental illness or unfit to stand trial are set out in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) Part 8A.

All the jurisdictions create a framework for detaining persons found to belong to one or both categories or for imposing supervised release. Detention does not necessarily occur in separate forensic facilities (see RANZCP Position Statement 90: Principles for the treatment of persons found not criminally responsible or not fit for trial due to mental illness or cognitive disability).

Other categories of forensic patient exist in some jurisdictions, such as bailed defendants and convicted prisoners who have been diagnosed with mental illness.

Disclaimer: These tables have been developed by the RANZCP as at 30 June 2017 in order to allow key provisions in the Mental Health Acts to be compared. They are intended for reference purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for legal or clinical advice.