Section 38 Criminal courts giving an interim hospital order
This section looks at section 38 of the Mental Health Act. It looks at the professionals you might come across in hospital, when and how the courts use this section. It explains what your rights are during this section and what could happen afterwards.
- The criminal courts can use section 38 of The Mental Health Act 1983. They can use it if they find you guilty of an offence that you could go to prison for. Section 38 allows the court to send you to hospital for assessment and treatment before you are sentenced.
- Going to hospital under The Mental Health Act is sometimes known as being ‘sectioned’.
- An order under Section 38 of the Mental Health Act is known as an ‘interim hospital order.’ This means it is short-term while the court decides what sentence to give you.
- The hospital can treat you without your permission for up to 3 months.
- The psychiatrist responsible for your care will see how you respond to treatment and tell the court. They are known as your ‘responsible clinician.’
- The court will decide what sentence to give you. You could stay in hospital on a hospital order (section 37 or 37/41) or go to prison.
This section covers:
- What professionals might I come across in hospital?
- When do the courts use this section?
- How do the courts use this section?
- How long will I be on this section?
- What are my rights?
- Can the doctors treat me against my will?
- Will I have to go back to court if the order is extended?
- What might happen after this section?
Last reviewed in October 2018. Next review October 2021.
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