Fitness to stand trial: characteristics of remands since the 1992 Criminal Code amendments

Can J Psychiatry. 1998 Apr;43(3):287-93. doi: 10.1177/070674379804300308.


Objective: To examine the characteristics of a sample of remands after the introduction of the 1992 Criminal Code amendments, to compare those deemed fit with those deemed unfit as the result of an institution-based evaluation of fitness, and to determine the impact of the Code changes on one's detention period by investigating the length of time that individuals were held on remand.

Method: File information was collected and analyzed for 180 males who were remanded for inpatient evaluations of their fitness to stand trial between October 1994 and July 1995.

Results: The results indicated that remanded defendants are more likely to be single, unemployed, and living alone and that unfit defendants are significantly more likely to have never been married. As well, individuals who were found to be unfit to stand trial were significantly less likely to have been diagnosed with a drug- or alcohol-use disorder and were 4 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. The results also indicated that while the 1992 Criminal Code revisions called for a 5-day evaluation period, it appears that this is rarely accomplished, and, in fact, the average length of time for an assessment of fitness is 23 days. Finally, the majority of remanded individuals are certified and treated with psychotropic medications while on remand.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that the fitness remand period is being used for purposes other than assessing fitness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Canada
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Forensic Psychiatry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Forensic Psychiatry / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Mental Competency / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors