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 Mental Health Act is the law which mental health professionals use section 38 to bring you to hospital for assessment and treatment. This is also known as being ‘sectioned’.
- You must need treatment in hospital. This must be the best thing for your health or safety or to protect other people.
- The criminal courts can use section 38 when they find you guilty of an offence that you could go to prison for. This is an ‘interim’ 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.
- Your Responsible Clinician (the doctor responsible for your care) will see how you respond to treatment and tell the court.
- 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?
- What might happen after this section?
Last reviewed in October 2015. Next review October 2017.
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