Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?

Last updated on April 8, 2019

psychiatrist attending to male patient.

What is a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?

A Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) is targeted at non-habitual offenders who, as a result of suffering from certain mental/psychiatric conditions, committed the criminal offence in question.

Instead of serving jail time, eligible and suitable offenders of an MTO will be directed to undergo psychiatric treatment at a psychiatric institution, i.e. the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), for up to 36 months.

An MTO is one of the Community-Based Sentencing (CBS) options. CBS was designed to provide courts with more flexibility in sentencing, apart from the traditional sentences such as imprisonment or fine.

Upon completion of the MTO, the offender’s criminal record will be spent, i.e. the offender will be deemed to not have a criminal record with respect to this offence.

If you are accused of an offence, read on to find out more on whether you are eligible for an MTO.

What Does Undergoing an MTO Entail?

If you are subject to an MTO, you will be required to attend mental health treatment sessions at IMH. You must also comply with any instructions or conditions given by the court and their appointed psychiatrist.

You may also be required to stay in IMH itself to receive in-patient treatment, for either the entire or part of the stated duration of the MTO.

What Are the Offences That Are Excluded From Being Considered for an MTO?

Not all offences can be considered for MTOs. The courts cannot grant an MTO in certain situations, such as where:

  • The offence has a fixed sentence by law, meaning the court has no discretion as to the type of sentence, as the sentence is already specified by statute;
  • The offence has a mandatory or specified minimum sentence of imprisonment, thus the court must impose the minimum period of imprisonment as prescribed by statute;
  • The offender had previously been sentenced to corrective training or preventive detention;
  • The offence is a fine-only offence;
  • The offence is punishable with imprisonment for more than 7 years; or
  • The offence will leave a criminal record that cannot be spent

What Are the Offences That May Be Considered for an MTO?

Regardless of the above-mentioned exceptions, the court may still make an order for MTO in accordance with section 339 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) even if the offender:

  • Had previously been sentenced to an imprisonment term exceeding 3 months (excluding an imprisonment term served in default of fine);
  • Had been admitted to an approved institution under section 34 of the Misuse of Drugs Act or approved centre under section 17 of the Intoxicating Substances Act at least twice;
  • Had been admitted to an approved centre or institution at least once;
  • Had previously been admitted to an approved institution or centre and is now facing an offence under the Misuse of Drug Act, the Misuse of Drugs Regulations or the Intoxicating Substances Act; or
  • Is punishable with imprisonment for more than 3 years but up to 7 years and is prescribed.

Deciding On the Offender’s Eligibility for an MTO

The court may issue an MTO for offenders aged 16 and above. Based on past cases, offenders ranging from 16-year-old teenagers to 63-year-old adults have been assessed, with some given an MTO.

The court will assess and decide on the eligibility of the offender based on the final report submitted by the court-appointed psychiatrist on this matter.

In order for the psychiatrist to produce the report, you may be remanded for observation in a psychiatric institution for a period of up to 3 weeks or periods as the court thinks necessary, or be ordered to attend an assessment in IMH.

You may also choose to appoint your own psychiatrist to make a report on your eligibility for an MTO within 3 weeks from the date the court has called for a report. The court-appointed psychiatrist will then take your psychiatrist’s report into consideration when writing and submitting their final report to the court.

An offender will be eligible for an MTO if the final report reflects that the offender:

  • Suffers from a psychiatric condition;
  • Is susceptible to treatment;
  • Is suitable to receive treatment (see below);
  • Committed the offence at least partly due to the psychiatric condition.

Factors that the psychiatrist should consider when assessing your suitability of treatment include:

  • The likeliness of you attending the required treatment sessions;
  • Your physical and mental state; and
  • Whether you have the financial means to make full/partial payments for the treatments received.

After assessing the final report, which must also include the psychiatrist stating that he is satisfied that you should be issued an MTO, the court has to explain to you the purpose, effect and consequences of breaching the order before making such an order.

Further, it should also be made clear that the order may be varied or revoked by the court.

Consequences for Breaching MTO Conditions

If you are reported to have breached the conditions set out by the court in the MTO, the court may fix a hearing date to confirm whether this is so.

To have you attend the hearing, the court may issue a summons (to direct you to appear before the court) or a warrant for your arrest (if the court is satisfied you may not appear, or have failed to appear upon the issuance of a summons).

Where the court is satisfied that you have indeed breached the MTO conditions, the court may then proceed to:

  • Issue you a warning;
  • Modify your obligations under the MTO, such as by extending the period of psychiatric treatment;
  • Impose a fine of up to $1,000 on you; or
  • Revoke the MTO order and impose an appropriate sentence for the offence, while giving due consideration to the degree of your compliance with the MTO.

Do note that if the court had previously imposed and suspended a sentence of imprisonment to the offence in question, before making the MTO order, the court must revoke the MTO order.

Re-Offending While Undergoing Treatment

Should you be convicted of another offence while undergoing treatment as directed by an MTO, the court may fix a hearing date to confirm your conviction. It may also issue a summons or warrant for your arrest to ensure you attend the hearing.

Where the court finds that you have indeed re-offended, the court may revoke the MTO and impose an appropriate sentence for the offence, while giving due consideration to the degree of your compliance with the MTO.

Should you require further information on your suitability for an MTO with regard to a specific offence, do consider seeking legal advice from one of our criminal lawyers.

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