WA passes legislation to reform outdated mentally impaired accused laws

Previous laws had been operating for over 25 years without significant amendment

WA passes legislation to reform outdated mentally impaired accused laws

The WA government has announced that the Criminal Law (Mental Impairment) Bill 2022 which aims to reform WA’s mentally impaired accused laws has recently passed through parliament.

The proposed law completely overhauls WA’s outdated mentally impaired accused laws. The treatment and management of persons with a mental impairment in the justice system will significantly improve following the passage of the legislation through the state parliament.

The new laws will play a significant role in protecting the human rights of persons with a mental impairment in the justice system, ensure procedural fairness, and bring WA into line with best practices in other states and territories, including through:

  • expanding the disposition options available to the judiciary so that community supervision orders are available for both those acquitted on account of mental impairment and those found unfit to stand trial;
  • limiting the terms of custody orders to ensure they align with the likely sentence the court would have imposed if they were sentencing the person in the ordinary course, having found them guilty of the offence;
  • introducing procedural fairness provisions to provide for the rights to appear, appeal and seek review of decisions of the courts and the new Mental Impairment Review Tribunal; and
  • ensuring determinations about the release of persons with a mental impairment from custody, and the conditions to be attached to such release, if any, are made by the new Mental Impairment Review Tribunal.

The government has committed to ensuring the community’s safety, and the paramount consideration for any person performing a function under the laws is protecting the community. There are currently approximately 56 individuals subject to indefinite custody orders under the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused) Act 1996. The new laws contain transitional provisions that require these people to be brought before the court for a limiting term to be placed on their custody order as soon as practicable.

The government said that careful planning is underway to ensure a safe, staged reintegration into the community and, where appropriate, the continued provision of supervision and support.

Attorney General John Quigley has expressed his satisfaction that the government has been able to deliver on its commitment to reform the outdated mental impairment framework. The previous laws had been in operation for over 25 years without significant amendment and had been subject to justifiable criticism since their inception.

"It was high profile cases like Marlon Noble, an Indigenous man who spent ten years in jail without being convicted of a crime, that was the catalyst for change to the current laws”, Quigley said. "There is a significant amount of work required across the Government to implement the reforms provided by the new Act, and it is anticipated that this implementation work will take approximately 12 months."

Recent articles & video

Columbia Law Review website taken down amid controversy over editorial process

Lawyers challenge US$ 78 million fee award in T-Mobile data breach settlement

Backlog of 80,000 cases at India's Supreme Court impedes justice: International Bar Association

Lucky seven promoted to partner at Lander & Rogers

CBP adds three to insurance partnership

JWS helps MM Capital Partners fund with PPP project stake pickup

Most Read Articles

First-ever cohort of the best dealmakers in Australia and New Zealand unveiled

Four join Corrs partnership in promotions round

Federal Court rules against cosmetics company for misleading conduct and trademark infringement

Baker McKenzie brings victory for Garuda Airlines in High Court