Unfit to Stand Trial
Where FASD is severe enough to affect an accused’s ability to communicate with counsel or renders him unable to understand the nature and object of the proceedings, a finding that he is unfit is appropriate (R. v. Dewhurst, 2009 YKTC 10, R. v. W.A.L.D.(1), R. v. W.A.L.D.(2), R. v. T.J. etc.). It is most often the case that the accused is rendered permanently unfit by FASD and would ultimately see the proceedings stayed. However, in R. v. J.J.G., 2014 BCSC 2497, an FASD-affected accused was made fit, and the Yukon case of R. v. Charlie, 2014 YKTC 17 demonstrates that there can be significant fluctuation in the cognitive functioning of an individual, depending on their mental health and other factors.
Courts should be cautious to not impose too stringent a test for fitness; an accused does not need to assist counsel in his defence as long as he understands what is being said and can recount relevant facts (R. v. Jobb, 2007 SKPC 129).
Below is a list of cases: