What is the Baker Act? How Can We Help Your Loved One in Involuntary Custody?
The Baker Act was aimed at preserving the rights of those who are involuntarily committed. Baker Act admissions can be voluntary or involuntary.
What are the Baker Act Admission Criteria?
The following criteria must be met in order to involuntarily commit someone for an examination through the Baker Act:
- There is “reason to believe” that a person has a mental illness and, because of the mental illness:
- The person has refused to be examined, even after “conscientious” explanation and disclosure of the examination’s purpose. Or, due to the person’s mental illness, they lack the ability to determine that an examination is needed, AND
- A lack of proper treatment will pose a “real and present” threat of substantial neglect from lack of self-care that cannot be avoided by the intervention or help of family members and friends or other available services, OR
- In the absence of proper treatment, the individual will be highly likely (based on recent behavior) to cause serious physical harm to themselves or others in the “near future.”
How is Someone “Baker Acted”?
There are three ways by which a person can be Baker Acted: through a circuit court, a law enforcement officer, and certain health professionals. Typically they are picked up by a law enforcement officer. Here at Roderman and Johnston Law we are committed to helping getting your loved one the care that they need. Call Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers today if you need any help 954-764-6800.
What Happens After Someone is Baker Acted?
If the person is picked up by an officer, they will be taken one of three places:
- Hospital Emergency Room – If the officer determines that the individual is experiencing a medical emergency, he may take them to a hospital emergency room. This hospital may or may not be a receiving facility for the Baker Act. Within 72 hours, a receiving facility must examine the person, unless the person is documented to have an emergency medical condition by the attending physician. Twelve hours after documentation that the person no longer has a medical condition or that the condition is stabilized, the person can be examined by either a physician or clinical psychologist at the hospital or a designated receiving facility and either be released or transferred to voluntary status. Or, the person can be transferred to a receiving facility where medical treatment needed is available. The transfer to a Baker Act receiving facility must be done within 12 hours of stabilization of the condition.
- To be processed by law enforcement – If the officer has arrested someone for a felony, even though they may meet the Baker Act criteria for an involuntary examination, they must be processed before being transported to a receiving facility.
- To a receiving facility – Unless there is a felony arrest or medical emergency involved, the individual will be taken straight to the nearest receiving facility. This includes those in custody for minor criminal behavior.
How Can We Help Your Loved One in Involuntary Custody?
We Can Prevent Long-Term Involuntary Hold
After being taken by the police they will be taken to a treatment facility. At the treatment facility your loved one is held until you get to the court to petition for release. The State of Florida could start making decisions on their behalf before they are released. If this happens your loved one could be held in a facility for up to six months while they receive mandated treatment from a psychiatric nurse, clinical social worker, mental health counselor, or clinical psychologist. Your loved one and yourself will have little say as to what this treatment is.
Help Your Loved One When They Can’t Help Themselves
You want what’s best for your loved one as they could be mentally ill or experiencing a substance abuse impairment that’s had a debilitating effect on their health. Your loved one may be hurting themselves, others, or making threats that you’re taking very seriously. Drugs and alcohol could be involved, and substance abuse could be fueling their mental health issues. By contacting us at Roderman and Johnston Law we are committed to helping getting your loved one the care that they need. Call us today if you need any help 954-764-6800.
Two Critical Choices Right Now
After your loved one has been “Baker Acted” you have two decisions:
- Let circumstances play out and see what the facility and possibly the state will do.
- Call an experienced Baker Act attorney to help you. We can file an emergency Petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus with the local Florida Circuit Court to ensure an emergency release hearing is held. If you select this option, you could have a greater say in what happens to your loved one.
Afterall, you want your loved one to get the help they need, whether that means enrolling them in an outpatient or inpatient program, finding them a therapist, or ensuring they take the proper medication. We believe this is a private family matter and that you should be part of the decision making process for your loved one in their time of need.
Our Attorneys will take immediate legal action as soon as you call us. We at Roderman and Johnston Law will let the facility know that we are representing your loved one, and then we will take all the necessary steps to protect your family member and begin by filing a petition for a hearing
What happens after the Baker Act has Expired?
Within 72 hours, the person must be released, either for outpatient treatment or on their own recognizance, unless:
- They are charged with a crime, OR
- They give “express and informed consent” to voluntarily be held or admitted.
A physician must certify that the individual is able to make “well-reasoned, willful and knowing decisions” about their mental health and medical conditions, OR
- The facility administrator files a petition for involuntary placement with the circuit court
Who pays for the Baker Act?
Unfortunately, even though it wasn’t their idea, the patient pays for both the 72-hour evaluation period as well as any treatment afterward. The patient can use private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare for the treatment, but is responsible for any deductibles and co-pays.
Call us at Roderman and Johnston Law so we can help you and your loved one in their time of need at 954-764-6800.