Mental Health Involuntary Commitment
In Florida, the Involuntary Commitment law is referred to as the Baker Act. If someone you know has been involuntarily committed, you have the right to be fully informed about the step-by-step procedure of involuntary commitment as well as your rights and the rights of the person who was, or is being, committed. Call the CCHR Florida hotline to get fully informed – 800-782-2878.
Excerpts from the Mental Health Act (The Baker Act)
The Baker Act is the Florida Mental Health Act. This legislation is in regards to involuntary commitment. Below are some excerpts from the Baker Act that are provided in order to help fully inform you of your rights, or those rights of your family member or friend who may have been incarcerated into a psychiatric ward, under the Baker Act.
394.459 Rights of patients.– (2) RIGHT TO TREATMENT.—
(c) Each person who remains at a receiving or treatment facility for more than 12 hours shall be given a physical examination by a health practitioner authorized by law to give such examinations, within 24 hours after arrival at such facility.
- Not more than 5 days after admission to a facility, each patient shall have and receive an individualized treatment plan in writing which the patient has had an opportunity to assist in preparing and to review prior to its implementation. The plan shall include a space for the patient’s comments.
394.459 Rights of patients.– (3) RIGHT TO EXPRESS AND INFORMED PATIENT CONSENT.–
(a)1. Each patient entering treatment shall be asked to give express and informed consent for admission or treatment. If the patient has been adjudicated incapacitated or found to be incompetent to consent to treatment, express and informed consent to treatment shall be sought instead from the patient’s guardian or guardian advocate. If the patient is a minor, express and informed consent for admission or treatment shall also be requested from the patient’s guardian. Express and informed consent for admission or treatment of a patient under 18 years of age shall be required from the patient’s guardian, unless the minor is seeking outpatient crisis intervention services under s. 394.4784. Express and informed consent for admission or treatment given by a patient who is under 18 years of age shall not be a condition of admission when the patient’s guardian gives express and informed consent for the patient’s admission pursuant to s. 394.463 or s. 394.467.
2. Before giving express and informed consent, the following information shall be provided and explained in plain language to the patient, or to the patient’s guardian if the patient is 18 years of age or older and has been adjudicated incapacitated, or to the patient’s guardian advocate if the patient has been found to be incompetent to consent to treatment, or to both the patient and the guardian if the patient is a minor: the reason for admission or treatment; the proposed treatment; the purpose of the treatment to be provided; the common risks, benefits, and side effects thereof; the specific dosage range for the medication, when applicable; alternative treatment modalities; the approximate length of care; the potential effects of stopping treatment; how treatment will be monitored; and that any consent given for treatment may be revoked orally or in writing before or during the treatment period by the patient or by a person who is legally authorized to make health care decisions on behalf of the patient.
(b) In the case of medical procedures requiring the use of a general anesthetic or electroconvulsive treatment, and prior to performing the procedure, express and informed consent shall be obtained from the patient if the patient is legally competent, from the guardian of a minor patient, from the guardian of a patient who has been adjudicated incapacitated, or from the guardian advocate of the patient if the guardian advocate has been given express court authority to consent to medical procedures or electroconvulsive treatment as provided under s. 394.4598. When the department is the legal guardian of a patient, or is the custodian of a patient whose physician is unwilling to perform a medical procedure, including an electroconvulsive treatment, based solely on the patient’s consent and whose guardian or guardian advocate is unknown or unlocatable, the court shall hold a hearing to determine the medical necessity of the medical procedure. The patient shall be physically present, unless the patient’s medical condition precludes such presence, represented by counsel, and provided the right and opportunity to be confronted with, and to cross-examine, all witnesses alleging the medical necessity of such procedure. In such proceedings, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence shall be on the party alleging the medical necessity of the procedure.
(d) The administrator of a receiving or treatment facility may, upon the recommendation of the patient’s attending physician, authorize emergency medical treatment, including a surgical procedure, if such treatment is deemed lifesaving, or if the situation threatens serious bodily harm to the patient, and permission of the patient or the patient’s guardian or guardian advocate cannot be obtained.
394.459 Rights of patients.– 8) HABEAS CORPUS.–
(a) At any time, and without notice, a person held in a receiving or treatment facility, or a relative, friend, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, or attorney, or the department, on behalf of such person, may petition for a writ of habeas corpus to question the cause and legality of such detention and request that the court order a return to the writ in accordance with chapter 79. Each patient held in a facility shall receive a written notice of the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
(b) At any time, and without notice, a person who is a patient in a receiving or treatment facility, or a relative, friend, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, or attorney, or the department, on behalf of such person, may file a petition in the circuit court in the county where the patient is being held alleging that the patient is being unjustly denied a right or privilege granted herein or that a procedure authorized herein is being abused. Upon the filing of such a petition, the court shall have the authority to conduct a judicial inquiry and to issue any order needed to correct an abuse of the provisions of this part.
(c) The administrator of any receiving or treatment facility receiving a petition under this subsection shall file the petition with the clerk of the court on the next court working day.
(d) No fee shall be charged for the filing of a petition under this subsection.
394.4597 Persons to be notified; patient’s representative.– (2) INVOLUNTARY PATIENTS.–
(a) At the time a patient is admitted to a facility for involuntary examination or placement, or when a petition for involuntary placement is filed, the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the patient’s guardian or guardian advocate, or representative if the patient has no guardian, and the patient’s attorney shall be entered in the patient’s clinical record.
(b) If the patient has no guardian, the patient shall be asked to designate a representative. If the patient is unable or unwilling to designate a representative, the facility shall select a representative.
(c) The patient shall be consulted with regard to the selection of a representative by the receiving or treatment facility and shall have authority to request that any such representative be replaced.
(d) When the receiving or treatment facility selects a representative, first preference shall be given to a health care surrogate, if one has been previously selected by the patient. If the patient has not previously selected a health care surrogate, the selection, except for good cause documented in the patient’s clinical record, shall be made from the following list in the order of listing:
1. The patient’s spouse.
2. An adult child of the patient.
3. A parent of the patient.
4. The adult next of kin of the patient.
5. An adult friend of the patient.
6. The appropriate Florida local advocacy council as provided in s. 402.166.
394.463 Involuntary examination.–
(1) CRITERIA.–A person may be taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination if there is reason to believe that the person has a mental illness and because of his or her mental illness:
(a)1. The person has refused voluntary examination after conscientious explanation and disclosure of the purpose of the examination; or
2. The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary; and:
(b)1. Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself; such neglect or refusal poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being; and it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services; or
2. There is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.
(f) A patient shall be examined by a physician or clinical psychologist at a receiving facility without unnecessary delay and may, upon the order of a physician, be given emergency treatment if it is determined that such treatment is necessary for the safety of the patient or others. The patient may not be released by the receiving facility or its contractor without the documented approval of a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, or, if the receiving facility is a hospital, the release may also be approved by an attending emergency department physician with experience in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and nervous disorders and after completion of an involuntary examination pursuant to this subsection. However, a patient may not be held in a receiving facility for involuntary examination longer than 72 hours.
- A person for whom an involuntary examination has been initiated who is being evaluated or treated at a hospital for an emergency medical condition specified in s. 395.002 must be examined by a receiving facility within 72 hours. The 72-hour period begins when the patient arrives at the hospital and ceases when the attending physician documents that the patient has an emergency medical condition. If the patient is examined at a hospital providing emergency medical services by a professional qualified to perform an involuntary examination and is found as a result of that examination not to meet the criteria for involuntary outpatient placement pursuant to s. 394.4655(1) or involuntary inpatient placement pursuant to s. 394.467(1), the patient may be offered voluntary placement, if appropriate, or released directly from the hospital providing emergency medical services. The finding by the professional that the patient has been examined and does not meet the criteria for involuntary inpatient placement or involuntary outpatient placement must be entered into the patient’s clinical record. Nothing in this paragraph is intended to prevent a hospital providing emergency medical services from appropriately transferring a patient to another hospital prior to stabilization, provided the requirements of s. 395.1041(3)(c) have been met.
394.467 Involuntary inpatient placement.–
(6) HEARING ON INVOLUNTARY INPATIENT PLACEMENT.–
(a)1. The court shall hold the hearing on involuntary inpatient placement within 5 days, unless a continuance is granted. The hearing shall be held in the county where the patient is located and shall be as convenient to the patient as may be consistent with orderly procedure and shall be conducted in physical settings not likely to be injurious to the patient’s condition. If the court finds that the patient’s attendance at the hearing is not consistent with the best interests of the patient, and the patient’s counsel does not object, the court may waive the presence of the patient from all or any portion of the hearing. The state attorney for the circuit in which the patient is located shall represent the state, rather than the petitioning facility administrator, as the real party in interest in the proceeding.
2. The court may appoint a general or special magistrate to preside at the hearing. One of the professionals who executed the involuntary inpatient placement certificate shall be a witness. The patient and the patient’s guardian or representative shall be informed by the court of the right to an independent expert examination. If the patient cannot afford such an examination, the court shall provide for one. The independent expert’s report shall be confidential and not discoverable, unless the expert is to be called as a witness for the patient at the hearing. The testimony in the hearing must be given under oath, and the proceedings must be recorded. The patient may refuse to testify at the hearing.
(b) If the court concludes that the patient meets the criteria for involuntary inpatient placement, it shall order that the patient be transferred to a treatment facility or, if the patient is at a treatment facility, that the patient be retained there or be treated at any other appropriate receiving or treatment facility, or that the patient receive services from a receiving or treatment facility, on an involuntary basis, for a period of up to 6 months. The order shall specify the nature and extent of the patient’s mental illness. The facility shall discharge a patient any time the patient no longer meets the criteria for involuntary inpatient placement, unless the patient has transferred to voluntary status.
(c) If at any time prior to the conclusion of the hearing on involuntary inpatient placement it appears to the court that the person does not meet the criteria for involuntary inpatient placement under this section, but instead meets the criteria for involuntary outpatient placement, the court may order the person evaluated for involuntary outpatient placement pursuant to s. 394.4655. The petition and hearing procedures set forth in s. 394.4655 shall apply. If the person instead meets the criteria for involuntary assessment, protective custody, or involuntary admission pursuant to s. 397.675, then the court may order the person to be admitted for involuntary assessment for a period of 5 days pursuant to s. 397.6811. Thereafter, all proceedings shall be governed by chapter 397.
(d) At the hearing on involuntary inpatient placement, the court shall consider testimony and evidence regarding the patient’s competence to consent to treatment. If the court finds that the patient is incompetent to consent to treatment, it shall appoint a guardian advocate as provided in s. 394.4598.