Defendants are clueless the 30-day psychiatric observation
AbstractObjective. To investigate the understanding and expectations of defendants referred to Valkenberg Hosprtal for 3O-day observation.
Design. Defendants referred for 30 days of psychiatric assessment were surveyed by means of a semi-structured interview within 3 days of admission.
Participants. One hundred consecutive referrals from the Western, Northern and Eastern Cape were considered; 88 were eventually entered into the study.
Results. AJI defendants were generally ignorant of the reasons for referral, but had a good understanding of court procedure and wrongfulness. Mentally ill subjects differed only in their not being able to distinguish between a guilty/not guilty plea Most did not have legal representation, did not personally request the assessment and denied guilt of the alleged offence.
Conclusions. Mental illness affects triability but not necessarily criminal responsibility. Disturbingly, most defendants were without legal representation and were unaware of the purpose, implications and possible outcomes of psychiatric observation. It is imperative that the legislation governing these aspects be reviewed.
Copyright remains in the Author’s name. The work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial Works License. Authors are required to complete and sign an Author Agreement form that outlines Author and Publisher rights and terms of publication. The Agreement form should be uploaded along with other submissions files and any submission will be considered incomplete without it [forthcoming].
Material submitted for publication in the SAMJ is accepted provided it has not been published or submitted for publication elsewhere. Please inform the editorial team if the main findings of your paper have been presented at a conference and published in abstract form, to avoid copyright infringement. The SAMJ does not hold itself responsible for statements made by the authors.
Previously published images
If an image/figure has been previously published, permission to reproduce or alter it must be obtained by the authors from the original publisher and the figure legend must give full credit to the original source. This credit should be accompanied by a letter indicating that permission to reproduce the image has been granted to the author/s. This letter should be uploaded as a supplementary file during submission.