Review Board for mental disorder

Hearing

During the hearing, the RBMD must:

  • Verdict of not criminally responsible
    Assess whether the person accused poses a significant threat to the safety of the public. If necessary, it must determine which conditions should be taken to control this threat and to allow the accused’s reintegration into society.
     
  • Verdict of unfit to stand trial
    Determine whether the accused is fit to stand trial and what conditionsshould be taken to ensure the protection the public.

The RBMD must consider and analyze all the evidence to assess the most important factor, the public’s safety. It also assesses the person’s mental condition, needs and his reintegration into society.
 

The RBMD sends a notice of hearing to the accused, the person in charge of the hospital, and any other party to inform them of the date and place of the hearing. If the person was between 12 and 17 years old at the time of the offence, the parents will also receive the notice and one of them must be present at the hearing.

Hearings are generally held where the person is being detained or receiving treatment, i.e., a hospital on the government list (designated hospital). This makes it easier for both the detained person and the medical staff to attend.

The RBMD may also hold the hearing elsewhere:

  • a Tribunal courtroom (Montreal or Québec City)
  • a courthouse
  • any other location in Québec

The parties and their counsel must be ready to proceed with the hearing at the scheduled time and must not delay the start of the hearing.

Video Hearing

The hearing can also be held remotely by video hearing if the accused gives his consent. The medical team will inform the RBMD if the remote hearing should not be held because of the accused’s condition. This procedure is used in emergencies or when logistical reasons make it difficult to hold the hearing at the place where the person is being detained or treated.

Request for postponement

If the accused or another party has serious reasons that prevent them from attending on the scheduled hearing date, the person must inform the RBMD and request a postponement in writing as soon as possible before the hearing. The RBMD will decide whether to postpone the hearing.  

Hearings are conducted informally. Three administrative judges are present. One must be a lawyer and one must be a psychiatrist. The third administrative judge is usually a psychologist or a social worker.

The presiding administrative judge opens the hearing and explains how it will proceed, which is usually in the following order:

  1. The psychiatrist or other health professional reads his or her report. The health professional may then be examined.
  2. The accused testifies. If the accused has a lawyer, the accused answers the lawyer’s questions. The accused then answers questions posed by the lawyer for the hospital and by the administrative judges.
  3. Any other relevant witness may be examined the same way.
  4. The lawyers make their submissions in turn. They present and explain their clients’ positions.

RBMD hearings are usually public. The parties and any person who so wishes are entitled to be present, unless prohibited by the RBMD.

The following may be a party to a hearing:

  • The accused
  • The person in charge of the hospital where the accused is being detained or treated
  • The Attorney General of Quebec (Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions), at the Attorney General’s request
  • Any other person who demonstrates the RBMD that he or she has a substantial interest in the proceedings to protect the interests of the accused

Each party is entitled:

  • to be summoned to the hearing
  • to be represented by a lawyer
  • to submit evidence
  • to make oral or written submissions
  • to call and question witnesses
  • to cross-examine the witnesses of the other parties
  • to cross-examine the author of an assessment report
  • to receive a copy of and contest the disposition

The RBMD may order any person whose behaviour disturbs the orderly conduct of the hearing to leave the room. It may even exclude the accused in the following situations:

  • When it considers that the accused’s presence at the hearing endangers a person’s life or safety or is detrimental to the accused’s treatment or recovery.
  • When it decides that the accused should be excluded, it can hear the evidence, testimony, or submissions in the accused’s absence.

Persons attending a hearing must not interfere with the conduct of the hearing. They must have a dignified and respectful attitude toward the RBMD and every other person.

All persons at the hearing must be suitably dressed and use appropriate language.

It is prohibited to eat food.
 

The parties to a hearing may retain the services of the lawyer of their choice. In some cases, the accused may be eligible for legal aid.

  • Persons found unfit to stand trial
    They must be represented by a lawyer at the hearing. If they are not, the RBMD will appoint a lawyer to represent them.
     
  • Persons found not criminally responsible
    The RBMD may decide to appoint them a lawyer if it considers that it is in the interests of justice.

Written notice

You must inform the RBMD in writting if you subsitute your lawyer, or if you no longer have a lawyer.

If you are a lawyer yourself, you must inform the RBMD when your services have been retained or when you cease to represent a party.

Recording of hearings

RBMD hearings are recorded. With some exceptions, a party may request a copy of the recording by contacting the Tribunal Secretariat. A fee may apply.

  • No person may make an audio recording of the hearing without the RBMD’s authorization.
  • It is prohibited to broadcast an audio recording of a hearing.

The use of cameras and conducting interviews

Cameras cannot be used inside the room during the hearing. Outside the hearing room, cameras may be used and interviews conducted depending on the following factors:

  • the RBMD’s authorization
  • the media relations policy applicable to the hearing location
  • the security rules in effect at such location

Language

Hearings may be held in French or in English. A party or a witness who does not understand or speak the language used at the hearing may be assisted by an interpreter. The RBMD provides, free of charge, the services of an interpreter to the accused and a party or a witness who is deaf or mute. In all other cases, the person who wants this service must bear the cost.

The RBMD may issue an order banning publication or dissemination to protect the identity of a victim or a witness. It may also order a hearing to be held in camera to prohibit access to the courtroom.



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