For the student wishing to practice criminal law, it is inevitable that they will encounter individuals with mental health issues. Studies consistently show that 1 in 5 of all Canadians will be affected by a mental illness, either personally or through a close family member. The percentage of individuals with mental health issues increases when one looks at those charged with criminal offences and those in the correctional system. Accused persons with mental health issues raise difficult and complex issues for the criminal law practitioner, whether you are a prosecutor, duty counsel, defence attorney or a judge.
This seminar will develop students’ knowledge of forensic mental health issues throughout the criminal justice system. That objective will be achieved by enhancing students’ understanding of the nature and extent of mental illness in our society and the various legal issues that arise when a mentally disordered individual comes into contact with the criminal justice system. Students will become familiar with Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code and related sections through lectures, guest speakers and class discussion. Students will also see how these statutory provisions arise in practice through field trips (conditions permitting) to the specialized Mental Health Court at Old City Hall, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and/or the Ontario Review Board. The seminar will also afford students an opportunity to reflect critically on the various social, legal and ethical issues that arise as an individual with mental health issues goes through the criminal justice system, including the use of measures to divert persons away from or out of the criminal justice system.