The Diversion List
The Diversion List is a court just for defendants with a mental illness and/or impaired intellectual functioning.
Dedicated Magistrates work with health and legal professionals to help eligible people treat their mental health needs related to their offending behaviour.
The usual court system may not consider the reasons behind their behaviour (which is usually minor offences or disorderly conduct, and can be repeat offences). Sentencing can be a problem, as they generally have little income or funds to pay a fine, and their offences are not serious enough for imprisonment.
By focussing on treatment and support, the Diversion List aims to:
- assist people to address the mental health or cognitive disability needs related to their breaking of the law
- improve community safety and reduce re-offending by people on the List
- improve the psychological and general well being of people on the List
- reduce the use of criminal justice punishments for health-related behaviours.
Who can participate
You may be eligible to take part in the program if:
- you’ve been charged with a minor offence, and
- you have a mental illness, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, or autism spectrum disorder
You can refer yourself into the program, or be referred into it by family members, other magistrates, mental health service providers, disability service providers or your lawyer.
You don’t need to plead guilty to your offence to take part.
Your participation is voluntary. You (or your legal guardian) must give written consent for a forensic mental health court liaison officer to hold an assessment interview with you. This will work out your suitability by:
- working out if you have a condition that meets program criteria
- gathering information from relevant agencies or treatment providers
- considering your offending behaviour
Being accepted into the program
The Magistrate will consider the information from the court liaison officer, the police and your defence lawyer.
If the Magistrate decides you can take part, they will give an order (usually a bail order) best suited to your needs.
Features of the program
With the help of the court liaison officer, you will be encouraged to use mental health, disability and welfare services best suited to your needs.
You will have to attend regular court reviews (usually monthly). This is a fairly informal process to monitor your treatment and progress.
A date will be set for you to return to court one last time, to finalise your matter and for sentencing. If your progress isn’t satisfactory, you may be returned to the usual court system.