Florida’s Baker Act is a Danger to All

by | May 14, 2012

If you found out that someone was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, you might assume the person must have some serious mental health problems and needs to be removed from
society to get some help.  This is not the typical case.  In fact, every 1 ¼ minutes, someone is involuntarily committed so it is not logical that there are that many people out there that
need to be committed, or “Baker Acted,” as it is known in the state of  Florida.   Instead of this law protecting individuals, it poses a dangerous threat to anyone.

The Baker Act dictates that a person must have a mental illness and would not get treatment on his own.  Further, without any treatment that person could cause bodily harm to himself and others based on his recent behavior, so that he needs to be forced into getting treatment.  That
is the logic behind involuntary commitment.  It sounds innocent enough, but in
reality it doesn’t work.  

The problem is who decides whether you are a danger to yourself or others?
Imagine having a fight with your neighbor who then calls the police and says you are dangerous and you are then picked up and put in a psychiatric facility.  Imagine answering an ad because you feel depressed over the death of a loved one and someone shows up at your door telling you that you must go to a psychiatric hospital at once to get treatment.  Imagine going to a psychiatrist for help with the stress of everyday life only to be committed because he has deemed it necessary.  These are all instances of using the Baker Act in the name of “public safety.”
You may logically think these are examples of misunderstandings that could be sorted out easily.  Not necessarily.  A seventy-four year old man was asked if he was depressed by his home care nurse. 

Things weren’t looking particularly upbeat at the moment so he answered yes.  He
was forced to go to a psychiatric hospital and he tried to explain it was a
misunderstanding, but he was admitted as being suicidal without so much as a
chance to make a phone call to someone who would really help him.  When one and
a half to two million people are involuntarily committed each year in the United
States, one can only think there are many instances where someone is committed

Whether in error or not, under the Baker Act or other involuntary commitment laws, you can be detained for seventy-two hours for observation.  A lot can happen in those seventy-two hours.  Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, states, “it [involuntary commitment]
entails far greater deprivation of rights than does incarceration in prison.”

Once admitted, despite having legal rights, you may not have the opportunity to exercise them before treatment is begun.  You may be forced to take psychotropic drugs with horrendous side
effects within that seventy-two hour period.  Perhaps electro-shock is deemed
necessary to change that undesirable behavior.  Whatever the case, it is more
than likely legal as  accountability isn’t clearly defined.  

Criminals must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt but that is not the case when dealing with involuntary commitment.  For example, if you experience brain damage or if you were
committed based on false information, the psychiatrist is not liable.  The only
proof needed is that statutory procedure was followed which favors the psychiatrist.

When one is Baker Acted in Florida, one has the right to informed consent which means you should be given a reason you are being admitted, what the treatment will be, its purpose, its benefits and
side effects and what are the alternatives.  You have the right to contact an
attorney and you should be given a copy of these rights upon being admitted.
That doesn’t mean it will happen.  

If a person is arrested by the police, the person is informed of his Miranda rights.   If a person is Baker Acted, he isn’t necessarily told of his rights.  Mental health personnel ignore the laws as a
formality getting in the way of getting treatment for the patient. The problem is, if you don’t know you have these rights and no one tells you about them, then the invitation for them to be ignored is there and so is the opportunity for abuse.

One should also consider that a psychiatrist only treats symptoms and does not cure anything.  There is no medical test such as an x-ray, blood test, MRI or anything else to prove that a
“mental illness” or “mental disorder” exists in the body.  It is ironic that a
psychiatrist has the legal power to force you to receive treatment that could
incapacitate you, yet his actions are not based on science.  Yet this “expert”
is the one that can judge you to be a danger to yourself or others in the name
of “mental health care.”

It would be wise to get informed and know your rights so you don’t become one of the innocent people Baker Acted and mentally crippled.


  1. Anon

    Once I broke up with my boyfriend and he called and said I was suicidal when I was not. While I was gone he went into my apartment without my consent everyday. (With my security camera records this shows) I think the officers should be required to background check whoever is making the bakeract report. He was declared insane by a judge, has been charged for stalking, and so forth. However, they demanded I be baker acted and now he has all my confidential information saved.

    • CCHR Florida

      Please call us at 800-782-2878 to report abuse or file a report online on our site.

  2. Rick

    My wife is Baker acted they said if she did not get Electric Shock Therapy they would keep he for 90 days with no chance to going home. The Dr’s that administrator the ECT decided she was not a candidate for it, they still decided to keep her the 90 days and a judge approved. She had a public defender that just sat there and said nothing and I was not allowed to speak for her defense. They say now they are trying to find a home for her but no one will contact me about where they are working on sending her or tell her. When I call the Dr said it’s not her job to find a physicality for her. She basically just sits in her room or wanders the halls, she see’s a Doctor for about 10 minutes each day then just walks around, I asked the Doctor what kind of help she is getting she said as well it’s not her job when I asked what her job was She replied ” I only prescribe medication”. then she transferred to another Doctor because I questioned her care. As well they want to keep her the 90 days then Marchmen act her to keep her an additional 60 days? Is this legal?

    • CCHR

      Please call 800-782-2878 and ask to speak with Eileen. You and your wife need an attorney.

  3. S Lilly

    On Saturday April 20th . My children , My husband and I we preparing for Easter making decorations cooking etc. I went to walk out of my front door and the police were there asking for my 12 year old daughter. I said she is in the shower they said go get her. I said no she is in the shower what is the problem? They said she sent a text to a friend stating that her friend would “Never see her again”. Instead of the parent calling me and informing me of what my daughter said she called police who now were telling me that they were taking my daughter to be baker acted. Even though I refused and my 7 year old (autistic Son) was crying because his was sister was being detained by police. Daughter States the police did not say a word to her during the whole ride over there and she was not accompanied by a female officer.
    Day 1 one 9: 00 PM Daughter Baker Acted. Police said I was not allowed to go see her someone would call me when she was admitted.
    Day 2: ( EASTER SUNDAY) ( they have not admitted her as of yet into the Mental facility (University Pavilion Tamarac , FL ) Nurse states that my daughter has no insurance and they have no beds at their facility for her at she would have to be transferred 60 miles away to Palm Beach.. When I told the nurse yes she does have insurance took the info and told me The family could bring her Easter lunch. Upon entering the Er, we were told by security no Children under 18 on the Mental floor. I have my seven year old with Autism with me . Was also told that we can only go in one at a time and cannot visit as a family. I went in first where I was told miraculously that in the half an hour I had given them the insurance info until I arrived a bed had opened up at the facility. I gave my daughter her lunch and then left so my husband could visit with her. We went home obviously upset and depressed. Er Doctors and Nurses said she was doing fine.
    Day 3 : Received a call from Dr Kim Stating that my daughter was fine and that she did not recommend any meds for her. That she is recommending counseling for her on an outpatient basis she is putting her in as Voluntary and the Social worker would be calling me the next day for an appointment and she is ordering her release the following day.
    Day 4: Called around 10 am to find out what time my daughter would be released and the Receptionist says who told you she is being released I said the Doctor that is treating my daughter. She said I see no order for release and further more she was seen by a different Resident today and she will be receiving Prozac. I said that is not so when I spoke with Dr Kim yesterday she said no meds and she would be ordering her in voluntary and releasing her today. The Receptionist said stop calling them Doctors they are NOT Doctors I said then how are they making medical decisions for my child. She said they are doing there Residency they are Students. I told her I did not give permission for my Child to be seen by Students. She asked me if I was going to keep talking or if she could talk. She then told me I am the one who called the police on my child didn’t I know what happens? I said I most certainly did not call them another 12 year child;s mother called. I said I want my daughter released.. She said I will have someone call you. Dr Rose called me about an hour later very pleasant man. I let him know that I spoke with Dr Kim the day before and she said she was releasing my daughter and didn’t feel she needed meds. He said the rotation changed and he was her Doctor today. I Told him the receptionist asked that I not call him a Doctor . He said I am a Doctor I am doing my residency. I asked how my daughter was set to be released today and now she is being detained for another day. He said he saw her today and felt she is depressed and would like her to try medications. I told him I do not want her on any meds. I asked if Dr Kim was on rotation today would my daughter be released and he said yes more than likely. I said then I would like my daughter released. He said he would work on getting her released tomorrow. Received call from Social worker from Facility asking if I would agree to do a Voluntary instead of a Baker act and I said if I say no then what happens. She stated that They would get a court order and hold her for another week. I said yes you can do voluntary then. She stated that the Family MUST do a Counseling session with her before my child is released. Set an appointment with her for Thursday @ 7:15 PM
    Day 5: Received a call from Social Worker letting me know my daughter was being released today and I can pick her up after 3 pm. I said we will be there tomorrow for the Counseling and she said no need just follow up with a private Counselor for my daughter.
    So Basically a baker act is a bunch of “Doctors” doing their residency practicing on your child and giving differing opinions. Parents are left uninformed, lied to and children are held against their will and their parents will by first Police officers , then medical staff all to tell you to get your child a counselor? Kid is left Confused scared and mistrusting of people in authority and family is torn apart, How is this helping anyone’s mental health?

    • CCHR

      Your parental rights and the rights of your child have been violated. Please call 800-782-2878 and ask for Eileen.

  4. Brian Treacy Sr

    I live in Citrus County and this is my situation my father was evicting his grandson my nephew from his house through the eviction process my nephew goes down to the courthouse has an ex parte done and next thing you know you’re comes the Gestapo they haul my 84 year old father to jail leaving his invilid wife to be taken to a hospital meanwhile just kids sitting back laughing his butt off because because he just bought himself a few more days on his eviction now a judge doesn’t go through any history on an involuntary Baker Act can you say retribution duh how anybody can go down and have anybody Baker acted the way they’ve got it set up and I need a lawyer my father needs a lawyer really this was totally done out of maliciousness and we can prove it what’s the penalty for something like that

    • CCHR

      Please call us at 1-800-782-2878 and we can give you a list of attorneys.

  5. Mike

    I was Baker acted because I was going to call children’s services on my daughter. She would not supervise or watch over the babies. Next thing I know I’m cuffed and locked up for 5 days. Being locked up and drugged messed me up. Now I’m afraid for my grandchildren is what is the most relevant.

    • CCHR

      Someone from our office will email you but you may also call us at 1-800-782-28278.

  6. Jeff

    The corruption and deceit in Pasco sheriffs office and baker act laws & well checks laws are violating civil rights left and right! It is criminal not to mention defamation of character!

  7. x

    Lee Mental Health in Fort Myers Florida: Redhead Russian “doctor” baker acted me. I was neither suicidal nor depressed, but I did have a back spasm that made sitting in chairs uncomfortable. apparently this is “a panic attack?”
    got sent to the hospital after she kept me on Geodon for 3 days, which i had severe allergic reactions too and it blew my ability to remember things for about 3 months. She spent most of the time I was on it telling me anything that ever bothered me in life was because I “Didn’t have a father as a child” (which i did, we get along quite well!) and “Didn’t accept God”.
    …she prescribed the same thing to 3 other people I know, telling them they had the same problems. There needs to be serious criminal investigation into these doctors!!!

  8. Scott Love

    Happened to me also — I was on a business call and next thing I know I’m going to the nut hut – destroyed my world and everything in it. Lost my house and my business!

  9. Rhodie

    Where do you report Baker Act abuse? My daughter had a horrific miscarriage on thanksgiving day. She was extremely depressed and didn’t understand the rapid changes that were taking place in her body (producing breast milk etc..). She contacted her OB Monday morning asking for help. She contacted our family doctor and he refused to see her. Sobbing, she called me and said she was going to the Centers for help. Their crisis line kept putting her on hold. This mental health facility turned her away. She drove around for more than two hours and her husband and I could not find her; we called the police (bad idea). She arrived home shortly after the officer arrived. She never said a word. The officer lead us to believe that if he took her to The Centers in Ocala, they would have to see her. He stated that since she had not indicated to him that she wanted to harm herself that he would NOT be baker acting her and she was free to leave at any time. After paperwork was completed she continued to wait in the lobby area for more than two hours before she saw a nurse. More paperwork. She advised the nurse that she just needed to talk to someone. Their website states that when a person is in crisis, sometimes they just need to talk. It was nearly five hours later when they advised her she would have to stay overnight and be released after she saw the doctor. She has a 3 year old son. She was devastated. Having had a miscarriage three days earlier she was still bleeding. She asked several times for pads and had to resort to using paper towels. They decided to keep her an additional day and tried to force her to take medication. The would not advise her why they needed to keep her or what’s the pills were or what they were for. They only stated that they were trying to find her a group to participate in. We could google that!! This kid just wanted someone to talk to. After being locked up (literally) she clammed up afraid that she would say something that might cause her to stay there longer. How do they get away with this?

  10. NP

    This Baker Act must be re-evaluated and re-visited. Do you realize innocent people are being de-humanized in such a humiliating way, sometimes leading to long term post traumatic stress disorder and causing severe depression. This MUST be stopped and changed. ,as it does NOT help. What gives an employer the right to do this to an employee when there is NO real danger or threat of any kind. United Health Care is in clear violation of this and it must be recognized for what it is. A VIOLATION OF ONES HUMAN RIGHTS!!!

    • Jason Finnegan

      Many people have and are abusing the Baker Act law to the point it is causing emotional/physc issues and denying our human rights such as freedom and the ability to be comfortable and happy….I need an attorney! One that works and is good!

    • CCHR

      Someone from our office will contact you.

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109 N. Fort Harrison Ave.
Clearwater, Florida 33755
Tel: 1-800-782-2878