The courts may make a hospital order instead of a prison sentence if they conclude the defendant needs medical treatment. This means the court will send you to hospital instead of prison. They may do this on conviction for any imprisonable offence except murder. It is entirely a decision for the court, acting on the medical evidence.
You need to have a mental illness that needs treatment in hospital. This must be the best thing for your health or safety or to protect other people. There are certain offences you can go to prison for. The court must have convicted (found guilty) you of one of these.
The judge has the option of adding a section 41 restriction order to , making the section a 37/41. The judge in a Crown Court can do this if they think you are a risk to the public. The restriction order means that there are restrictions on you and your Responsible Clinician (RC). One restriction is that your RC needs to get permission from the Secretary of State for Justice before they can discharge you.
- The Mental Health Act is the law which can be used to admit you to hospital for assessment and/or treatment for a mental illness.
- To be detained or ‘sectioned’, you must have a mental disorder which needs assessment or treatment.
- You must need assessment or treatment in hospital in the interests of your own health or safety or to protect other people.
- The criminal courts can use section 37 if they think you should be in hospital instead of prison.
- It is a sentence and does not have a fixed end date.
- You can appeal to the courts if you do not agree with this sentence. There are strict timescales if you want to do this, so it is a good idea to get legal advice from a solicitor.
- You can also appeal to the hospital managers and the Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT).
- The hospital can treat you without your permission.
- You can be discharged from this section by your Responsible Clinician (the person responsible for your care), the hospital managers or the tribunal.
- When you are discharged, you are entitled to free aftercare services under section 117 of the Mental Health Act. This can include things such as supported housing.