Expert Witness Resources

What is a Fitness to Plead assessment?

The law on unfitness to plead is concerned with whether or not an accused is able to stand trial and, if not, the procedure that should be used to deal with that accused. Where the issue of unfitness to plead arises, the court does not consider the accused’s guilt, but rather two distinct issues.

First, there is the question of whether the accused is “under a disability” which renders it inappropriate for him or her to be tried. This can be due to a disability caused by a physical impairment or a mental disorder. An example would be an accused who as a result of very low intellectual ability is unable to follow the process of his or her trial.

Secondly, if the court finds that the accused is under such a disability, the jury must determine whether or not the accused did the act or made the omission charged There is no statutory provision for the legal test of whether or not an accused person is unfit to plead. The test itself, known as the Pritchard test, is covered by the common law.

Please see articles below for more information

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What is the purpose of a Fitness to Plead assessment?

What is the purpose of a Fitness to Plead assessment? Fitness to Plead in the Crown Court (Archbold 4-166a to 4-185) The purpose of this procedure is to strike a fair balance between the need to protect a defendant, who has, in fact, done nothing wrong but is unfit to…

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What are the Pritchard Criteria?

What are the Pritchard Criteria? This is taken from a Consultation by the Law Commission (Consultation Paper 197). They were to publish a report in the summer of 2012 and are hopefully going to introduce a standard psychiatric assessment as the Pritchard Criteria is quite a controversial test. The law…

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Who can assess Fitness to Plead?

Who can assess Fitness to Plead? Although the 1964 Act does not therefore specifically require that the evidence comes from a psychiatrist, in practice a finding of unfitness to plead has required a consensus of psychiatric opinion. However, a significant change under the Mental Health Act 2007 was to allow…

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