Once a defendant has been found unfit to plead, found to have committed the act (via a trial of facts) and sentenced to hospital (via the Mental Health Act), can the case be reopened when the defendant becomes well again?

I am under the impression that at some time the law was that the defendant was sectioned until he became well again. But now it just gets dealt with via the trial of facts.

1 Answer 1


Can the case be reopened when the defendant becomes well again?


See the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964, and the related Crown Prosecution Service guidance:

Section 5(1)(b) and (2) of the Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 provides that where a person has a finding made that they are under a disability and that they did the act or omission charged, the court shall make:

  • a hospital order (with or without a restriction order);

  • a supervision order; or

  • an order for his absolute discharge.

Section 5A(4) of the same provides for an express power for the Secretary of State for Justice to remit for trial a person who becomes fit for trial while detained in hospital under a hospital order and a restriction order made under section 5(2)(a) Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964.


Section 4A(2) Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 provides that a finding of unfitness will have the effect that the trial "shall not proceed or proceed further". Although the fitness to plead procedure can result in an acquittal, a finding that the offender did the act or made the omission charged is not a conviction and does not amount to the determination of a criminal charge. It does not preclude a full trial of the accused if s/he becomes fit to be triedR v H [2003] UKHL 1.

  • Is this something that happens a lot? I get the feeling that it doesn't. I guess this is because by the time the retrial comes along the defendant has already spent a significant amount of time in "custody". Almost as much time as he would otherwise have spent in prison custody.
    – HMPtwo
    Dec 11, 2022 at 17:31

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