Frequently Asked Questions

How are hearings happening during Covid-19?

Hearings are currently taking place in-person or via video using Microsoft Teams. The Board will follow any public health recommendations applicable to hospitals and health care settings.

If you wish to observe a Review Board hearing, please contact the Registry in advance.

What is the British Columbia Review Board?

The British Columbia Review Board is an independent tribunal, established under the Criminal Code of Canada.

A one page document with key information about the Review Board is available.

What does the Board review?

The BC Review Board only deals with matters where a criminal court in British Columbia has made:

  • a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD); or
  • a finding of unfit to stand trial.

The Board reviews the dispositions (legal orders) that have been made in respect of the accused under the Board’s jurisdiction.

What is the difference between the BC Review Board and the Mental Health Review Board?

The BC Review Board only deals with matters where a criminal court in British Columbia has:

  • made a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD); or
  • a finding of unfit to stand trial.

The Board reviews the dispositions (legal orders) that have been made in respect of the accused under the Board’s jurisdiction.

The Mental Health Review Board is created under provincial legislation to ensure that patients who are detained involuntarily in civil mental health facilities have an opportunity to challenge their detention.

Where are Review Board hearings held?

Most Review Board hearings are held at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam. But, if an accused currently resides in the community under conditions, hearings may also be held at other locations closer to that community.

Who attends a Review Board hearing?

A Review Board hearing is conducted by a panel of three Board members.  The chair must be a judge, or a person entitled to be appointed as a judge, and the other members must include a psychiatrist and a public member who might have any relevant background.

The parties include the accused, who will almost always be represented by counsel, a representative of the forensic system, and a Crown prosecutor.  Where the accused is a young person under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, their parent or guardian may be a party.

The Review Board may designate other persons as parties. For more information, please see our Hearing Process page. If you think you should be designated as a party, please contact the Review Board registry for more information.

What does a hearing look like?

Review Board hearings usually follow a similar process, which can be found on our Hearing Process page.

How long is a Review Board hearing?

BC Review Board hearings typically run for three hours.

How do I see a schedule of upcoming hearings?

Please see our Schedule page. Please note there are frequent changes to our schedule. If you plan to attend a hearing please contact us before travelling to ensure the hearing is going ahead.

May I attend a Review Board hearing?

Review Board hearings are usually open to the public. Please contact the Registry so that arrangements may be made for your attendance. In addition, should the hearing be cancelled, you can be notified.

Please note that the Review Board may close the hearing or part of the hearing to the public if it is in the best interests of the accused and not contrary to the public interest.

Please refer to our schedule page for information on upcoming hearings.

Can I record or photograph the hearing?

Although Review Board hearings are generally public and may be attended, recording or photography is strictly prohibited. If you attend a hearing at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, they have additional policies and procedures with regards to security and recording devices.

If the hearing is by video, no recording of any part of the proceeding is permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, taking screen shots, recording conversations, and/or using third party software to record the proceeding.

Please refer to our Rules and Guidelines page for more information.

How long after the hearing will I know the outcome?

This varies with each hearing. Sometimes, the panel may reach a decision and inform those attending the hearing right away. In other cases, the panel may need to discuss things further, and reserve their decision in the meantime.

How long after the hearing until the reasons are completed?

Written reasons are usually finalized and released to parties within approximately 7 weeks. If an accused is found fit to stand trial, the reasons are completed and released within 2 weeks.

How do I access a decision?

In order to access a disposition, please contact the Registry with a written request and specify which disposition you are requesting.

In order to access a set of reasons, please visit our CanLII page.

For any other questions in regards to decisions, please contact the Registry. Also, please be aware that some decisions contain sensitive elements that may need to be removed before release.

I am acting as counsel for an accused, but I am unfamiliar with the Review Board process – where can I find more information?

If you have any questions with regards to our process, please see our Rules and Guidelines page or contact our Registry.

I am acting as counsel for an Indigenous accused. Can I request a Gladue report?

Yes, defence counsel may request a Gladue report through the First Nations Justice Council. Please see About the Board for more information.

I am a victim or related to a victim of an offence. Where can I find more information?

Please refer to the Information for Victims page.

I have concerns for my safety or someone else’s safety – who do I contact?

If this is an emergency, please contact 911.

If this is not an emergency, it is still best to contact your local police department. Whether you are a victim, a witness, or a family member of an accused, the local police will be able to alert the appropriate people.

If you are concerned that the accused might try to contact you, you should discuss this with Crown Counsel at BCPS.ReviewBoard@gov.bc.ca.

I have information that I think is relevant to an accused’s case. What should I do?

If you are submitting something on behalf of an accused person, it is best to do so through their counsel. If you are submitting something on behalf of a victim, it is best to do so through the Crown counsel office at BCPS.ReviewBoard@gov.bc.ca. If defence or Crown counsel choose to put forward the document, it will automatically be submitted for consideration at the hearing.

If neither of these options is possible, submissions may also be made directly by using our contact form. Please ensure that your email states which accused’s file it is for.

Finally, please keep in mind that all parties, including the accused, will be provided with a copy of all submissions, as the Criminal Code requires. Do not include sensitive information, such as your phone number or address.