Fitness to Plead

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What is Fitness to Plead?

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Fitness to plead, or rather, unfitness to plead, is concerned with individuals with mental health and learning difficulty disorders, whose ability to comprehend and participate in any criminal proceedings they are faced with is in question.

Here at Richard Nelson LLP, we have an excellent reputation and proven track record in successfully representing such defendants who find themselves embroiled in the Criminal Justice System, especially in fitness to plead hearings.

Our fitness to plead solicitors are able to offer an individual service, tailored to the needs of our clients. We recognise that people with mental health issues or learning difficulties are often frightened and bewildered when facing prosecution.

Our aim is to avoid unnecessary Court appearances and if possible, divert individuals away from the Criminal Justice System. We look to achieve this by vigorous representations at the earliest stage of the proceedings, including during police station interviews.

If a case proceeds to a Court appearance, we can offer continuity of service with the same advocate representing at the police station through to the Crown Court. Our advocates will obtain information from multiple agencies to assist in preparing a defence.

How we assess fitness to plead

We are fortunate to be able to work closely with expert psychiatrists and psychologists, who will prepare thorough assessments to assist us during the Court Process. The Psychiatrists that we use are approved under section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act 1983 and are therefore qualified to prepare written reports and give oral evidence at court if required to do so.

If after two psychiatric assessments (the Pritchard test) a client is deemed not fit to stand trial, our advocates are of sufficient standing that they are individually appointed by the Crown Court to act in the client’s best interests. Our primary aim being to assist the Court in finding a disposal that best meets the individual client’s needs.

Get in touch with our fitness to plead lawyers using the form on the right if you, or someone you know, may be considered unfit to plead.



Get in touch

For more information about the Fitness to Plead services Richard Nelson LLP provide and about how we can help you, contact us today.

jacqui callan profile picture

Jacqui Callan


richard etherington profile picture

Richard Etherington

Associate and Higher Courts Advocate

Louise O'Driscoll


Ben Shellard

Legal Assistant

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What we do...

We offer 24-hour police station Advice and Representation. If you are to be interviewed on a voluntary basis, we can attend with you and arrange for an Appropriate Adult if required.

Please call 07800570125 and ask for Jacqui Callan specifically, Richard Nelson LLP’s Solicitor Advocate who has over 25 years experience in the criminal justice system and significant experience in dealing with fitness to plead issues

If you are arrested we can be contacted through the duty solicitor call centre. Ask for Richard Nelson LLP and the police station will contact us on your behalf.

We are able to offer continuity of service from the Police Station through to either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court. We work in conjunction with experts, to provide a service tailored to your needs.

We are able to conduct your case on a legally aided basis if eligible, or on a privately funded basis.

If you have any questions regarding fitness to plead hearings, or other criminal defence issues, then please contact us today for a confidential and free discussion about your case.


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