An NCR verdict does not mean a person gets to "walk" free, nor can anyone with a mental illness use the defence to avoid jail.
•MYTH: An NCR verdict means a person gets to “walk” free.
A person deemed NCR does not get to walk out of the courtroom free to go about their lives as they wish. They are placed under the authority of a provincial review board and sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment until they are no longer deemed a “significant risk.” Some spend more time hospital than they would have spent in jail if convicted of a crime.
•MYTH: Anyone with a mental illness could commit a crime and then claim NCR to avoid jail.
Having a mental disorder is not enough to be found NCR. Anyone who advances the defence has to prove the disorder rendered them incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act or incapable of knowing that it was wrong. Crimes motivated by compulsive urges, such as paraphilias (sexual disorders), usually do not result in an NCR verdict. Likewise, most sociopaths or psychopaths — now called anti-social personality disorder — would not be found NCR on account of that disorder alone because it is unlikely the disorder would render them incapable of appreciating their actions and knowing right from wrong.
•MYTH: The system is flooded with NCR cases.
It may seem that way because several high-profile cases have been in the news a lot lately, but in reality an NCR verdict is rendered in only two of every 1,000 criminal cases. NCR cases on charges of serious violence are even less common, representing an estimated 8.1 per cent of NCR cases overall.
•MYTH: The system isn’t working. While it is difficult to compare recidivism rates from different data sets, research has consistently shown a stark difference between rates for NCR accused and the prison population. Recidivism estimates for people found NCR range from 7.5 and 20 per cent, while rates for those in the federal prison system range from 41 to 44 per cent.
•MYTH: All mentally ill people are dangerous. The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims of violence than people who do not have a mental illness — 2.5 to four times more likely, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.