These issues arise in both the District and Superior Courts. Once a defendant has been found not competent to stand trial because of a mental illness or not guilty by reason of a mental illness, the District Attorney´s Office or the hospital files a petition to commit the defendant pursuant to M.G.L. c.123 sec 16(b).
In order to commit a defendant it must be shown that he/she suffers from a mental illness and that his/her release would pose a danger.
If the petition is allowed the defendants are committed to Bridgewater State Hospital or a department of mental health facility. The initial commitment is for 6 months and thereafter the hospital must re-petition to commit the defendant on a yearly basis.
In the event Bridgewater State Hospital or a department of mental health facility seeks to discharge a defendant, the District Attorney´s Office must be notified and may file their own petition to request the court to order the defendant to remain committed.
An Assistant District Attorney is assigned to appear and be heard at all of these proceedings.