New Zealand Police v JM [2020] NZYC 273

Published 01 October 2020

Fitness to stand trial — mental impairment — youth offending — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 333 — Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003, s 4 — Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003, s 7 — R v Presser [1958] VR 45 — Nonu v R [2017] NZCA 170. The young person faced numerous charges, including unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, theft, dishonesty, assault on police, resisting police and possession of an offensive weapon. An issue as to the young person's fitness to stand trial arose and s 333 reports from a psychologist and a psychiatrist were before the Court for consideration. Unfitness to stand trial, under s 4 of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 (CP(MIP)) means a person is "unable, due to a mental impairment, to conduct a defence or instruct counsel" and cannot plead or adequately understand the nature or potential consequences of the proceedings. The reports noted the young person had a low IQ, meeting the definition of a mild mental retardation. Another report stated the young person most likely met the criteria for ADHD and an intellectual disability under s 7 of the Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003. The report writers suggested that the young person would most likely be able to plead to minor charges in the Youth Court but would not be able to follow more serious charges, especially if those were transferred to a different forum such as the High Court. Given these factors, the Judge determined that the young person met the criteria under the CP(MIP) and was deemed unfit to stand trial. Judgment Date: 27 May 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *