The following statutes are designed to protect persons who are impaired due to substance abuse, or who have mental illness as well as the safety of the general public.
Enacted in 1971, the Baker Act is a Florida statute aimed at protecting the rights of persons with mental illness along with maintaining public safety. The Baker Act allows for involuntary examination (what some call emergency commitment). It can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, or mental health professionals. There must be evidence that the person a) has a mental illness (as defined in the Baker Act) and b) is a harm to self, harm to others, or self-neglectful (as defined in the Baker Act). Examinations may last up to 72 hours and occur in 100+ Florida Department of Children and Families designated receiving facilities statewide.
Many things may occur after the examination. This includes the release of the individual to the community (or other community placement), a petition for involuntary inclient placement (what some call civil commitment), involuntary outpatient placement (what some call outpatient commitment or assisted treatment orders), or voluntary treatment (if the person is competent to consent to voluntary treatment and consents to voluntary treatment). The involuntary outpatient placement language in the Baker Act took effect in 2005.
Marchman Act – Involuntary Assessment – Florida Statute 397.6811
The Marchman Act allows a Petition for Involuntary Assessment to be filed when there is good faith reason to believe an individual is substance-abuse impaired and because of that impairment, has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use. The Petition is filed with the Clerk of Court and must be set for hearing within 10 days. Notice of hearing is provided by mail to the petitioners. The client is served notice of hearing by a plainclothes Deputy Sheriff.
A General Master presides at the hearing. After hearing all relevant testimony, the court may enter an Order for Involuntary Assessment. Unless arrangements have been made for assessment at a private facility, the court order shall direct the Sheriff’s Office to take the client into custody and deliver him/her to a public facility licensed by the Department of Children and Families. The facility will assess and stabilize the client for a period not to exceed 5 days. A written assessment is sent to the court. Once the written assessment is received, the court may proceed with the Petition for Involuntary Treatment.
Marchman Act- Involuntary Treatment – Florida Statute 397.693
A Petition for Involuntary Treatment may be filed once the written assessment is reviewed by the court and the recommendation is involuntary treatment. Notice of hearing is provided by mail to the petitioners and any attorney on record. The client is once again served notice of hearing by a plainclothes Deputy Sheriff. A general master presides at the hearing and after taking all relevant testimony, the court may enter an order for involuntary treatment for a period not to exceed 60 days. It may also direct the Sheriff to take the client into custody and delivery him to the licensed facility.