Section 32 | Factsheet

Criminal Procedure

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Criminal Procedure

If you were suffering from a mental illness, mental condition or cognitive impairment at the time of committing an offence, you may be able to have the matter dismissed by way of a section 32 mental health order.

We can assist you with an application to dismiss the proceedings under section 32 of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990. This provision allows the court to dismiss a matter if the person was suffering from a mental illness, condition or cognitive impairment at the time of committing the alleged offence. An order under section 32 means that your matter will be diverted from the criminal justice system and no conviction will be recorded against you.

What is covered by the provision?

Mental health conditions can cover a range of different issues including:

  • depression,
  • severe substance abuse,
  • schizophrenia,
  • bipolar disorder or
  • anti-social personality disorder.

The purpose of section 32 is to divert the person away from the court system so that they can get appropriate mental health treatment in the community.

How Do I Get a Section 32?

If you think you might be eligible for a section 32 diversion, speak to us as soon as possible so that we can assist you with your application. It is often important to raise the possibility of this application early in your court proceedings. The Magistrate will need to be convinced that you were suffering from the relevant mental condition at the time you committed the offence, and that it is more appropriate that your matter be dealt with under section 32 as opposed to the criminal justice system.

We can assist you with your section 32 application by:

  • Gathering material to support your application;
  • Obtaining a report from a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist that meets the requirements of section 32; and
  • Representing you when the Magistrate hears your application.

What Conditions Are Imposed By A Section 32 Order?

If you are granted a section 32 you will have to follow the conditions set out by the magistrate. This may require you to:

  • Abstain from using drugs and/or alcohol and agree to regular testing;
  • Undertake mandatory counselling sessions;
  • Take prescribed medication;
  • Enter into the care of a reasonable person; or
  • Agree to have your conditions reviewed regularly.

How we Can Help

Our criminal defence lawyers are experienced in making section 32 applications, having assisted many clients in doing so. If you have been charged with an offence and think that a section 32 is appropriate in your situation, call O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors today on (02) 9261 4281 to discuss your legal options.

Helplines and Support Services:

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14 (24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services)
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636 (information and referral service for anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention)
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 (free, confidential support and counselling for young people aged 5-25)
  • Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511 (24/7 advice, referral, and support for mental health concerns)
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467 (24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services)
  • Men’s Line Australia – 1300 78 99 78 (24/7 telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns)
  • GriefLine – 1300 845 745 (free, confidential support and counselling for individuals experiencing grief, loss, and bereavement)
  • QLife – 1800 184 527 (support and counseling for LGBTIQA+ individuals and their families and friends, available from 3 pm to midnight)


O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

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