Page zoom: (-) | (+) | Normal
Font size: A - | A + | Reset

S32 Step By Step Guide

Possible outcomes

    Under section 32, the magistrate may do one of the following:
  • adjourn the proceedings: section 32(2)(a)
  • grant the defendant bail: section 32(2)(b)
  • make any other order: section 32(2)(c)
  • dismiss the charge and discharge the defendant into the care of a responsible person, unconditionally or subject to conditions: section 32(3)(a)
  • dismiss the charge and discharge the defendant on the condition that the defendant attend on a person or at a place specified by the Magistrate: (section 32 (3) (b))
  • i) For assessment or treatment (or both) of the defendant’s mental condition or cognitive impairment, or

    ii) To enable the provision of support in relation to the defendant’s cognitive impairment, or

  • dismiss the charge and discharge the defendant unconditionally. (section 32 (3) (c))

A section 32 order is not a finding of guilt or a conviction.


Final orders made under section 32 orders can be for up to six months.

A common objection to section 32 is often the six-month duration of the order.

Remember that magistrates may also take action under section 32(2) to adjourn the proceeding, grant bail - with or without conditions - or make any other order that the magistrate considers appropriate. Such a course has the effect of potentially lengthening the process beyond six months. This may be a relevant course to suggest if the magistrate is concerned about the six-month duration of a section 32 order.

If a person breaches any one of the conditions within those six months (and it is reported to the court) then they can be brought back before the court.

Responsible person

Magistrates may make an order discharging the defendant into the care of a responsible person either unconditionally or subject to conditions. (See section 32(3)(a) of the MHFPAMental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 NSW.) This may be done in lieu of a support or treatment plan. In IDRS's experience it is the exception rather than the rule that magistrates require the nomination of a responsible person.

The legal obligations of any person nominated as a responsible person are not clear. The court cannot bind persons who are not parties to a proceeding to comply with section 32 orders.

It is IDRS's suggestion that the nomination of a responsible person be avoided, if possible. If a family member is nominated it may place additional strain on already difficult relationships. In the case of organisations such as ADHCAgeing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC)
ADHC is the main agency that provides services to people with intellectual disability in NSW.
ADHC Contact details:
or non-government organisations, it may be that they have a policy of not agreeing to be nominated. The naming of particular individuals from an organisation should be avoided. An alternative is to suggest to the court that a section 32 order be written as: 'To continue to accept assistance from Ageing, Disability and Home Care (or other organisation)' rather than the nomination of a responsible person.

CasestudyAfter an application

Go to top of the page