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Are you aware that individuals suffering from mental health conditions may require treatment and support rather than punishment?

Beyond the Charges: How Mental Health Grounds Can Lead to Dismissal in NSW.

If you are facing criminal law charges in New South Wales, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and distressed. However, it’s important to know that there may be legal avenues to challenge these charges and seek their dismissal, especially if you can establish a defence on mental health grounds. In this blog, we will look at mental health legislation in NSW and how this can potentially lead to the dismissal of charges. Understanding your rights and options is crucial, and Repute Law, one of Australia’s premier criminal law firms, is here to guide you through the legal process and secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Challenging Charges

When it comes to criminal law cases, NSW passed legislation in 2021 known as the Mental Health and Cognitive Impairment Forensic Provisions Act 2020 (NSW). under this Act the courts have the ability to consider the mental health implications of the accused, whether or not they should go to trial and whether they may be better served being rehabilitated or seeking medical treatment rather than a conviction.

The legislation recognises that individuals suffering from mental health conditions may require treatment and support rather than punishment.

To successfully argue mental health grounds for dismissal, it is crucial to establish that the accused person has a mental illness that affects their understanding or control of their actions at the time of the alleged offence. This defence requires strong evidence, including medical reports, psychiatric assessments and expert testimony.

Further s14 outlines criteria which must be satisfied in order to be dealt with under the act:

  1. The defendant has, or had at the time of the commission of the offence, a mental health impairment; or
  2. The defendant has, or had at the time of the commission of the offence, a cognitive impairment; and
  3. It would be more appropriate to deal with the defendant under the MH&CIFP Act than otherwise according to law; and
  4. The defendant is not a mentally ill or mentally disordered person.

One notable case that highlights the significance of mental health grounds is *R v Foye* [2013] NSWCCA 100. In this case, the Court of Criminal Appeal acknowledged that a person’s mental health condition could impair their capacity to control their actions and recognise the consequences of their behaviour. The Court held that the defendant’s bipolar disorder and other factors, constituted a valid mental health defence. Consequently, the charges were dismissed, underscoring the significance of taking mental health into account in criminal cases.

A major component of a mental health application is a well-written report from a psychiatrist or psychologist. If mental health and cognitive impairment are raised, they must be proved on the balance of probabilities. It is important to seek reports at an early stage and to ensure that this material must address the requirements of the Act. At Repute Law, we can refer you to experts if required to facilitate this report promptly.

At Repute Law, we understand the complexities of navigating mental health defences. Our team of Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers, all with extensive court experience, is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to build a strong defence on your behalf. We pride ourselves on being the only law firm in Australia comprised entirely of court lawyers, ensuring you receive the highest level of representation.

To further enhance our client service, we assign a Senior Criminal Defence Lawyer and a Case Concierge®, also a qualified lawyer, to each client. Our Case Concierge provide exceptional support and advice, ensuring you are Court Ready® before your court appearance. This unique service covers things like what to wear in Court and guidance on what happens during proceedings.

With Repute Law by your side, you can rest assured that your case is in the hands of skilled professionals who will diligently work to secure the best possible outcome for you.


When facing criminal charges in New South Wales, exploring all available legal avenues, including mental health grounds for dismissal, is essential. Repute Law understands the gravity of the situation and is committed to providing expert guidance and representation throughout your case.

By leveraging our vast experience and in-depth knowledge of criminal law, we have successfully defended numerous clients and achieved dismissals on mental health grounds. Our dedication to exceptional client service sets us apart, ensuring you receive the utmost care and attention during this challenging time.

By engaging Repute Law at the earliest opportunity, our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers can promptly gather evidence, interview witnesses and prepare the best possible defence. Our team will negotiate with the police, aiming to minimise reputational loss by seeking to have the charges reduced or even dismissed without going to Court. Early representation could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

If you are seeking one of the best criminal law firms in Australia to fight for your rights, contact Repute Law today.

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