Community Built Knowledge Base => Library: Psychology questions and answers => Topic started by: OverBoard on February 03, 2011, 12:31:46 AM

Title: TREATMENT: How do you have someone involuntarily committed (Baker Acted)?
Post by: OverBoard on February 03, 2011, 12:31:46 AM
I'm in the west and when my ex attempted suicide she was in ICU for 5 days and released after an additional 5 days in the hospital. Yet in some states,I know in the southern states, they have a Baker Act. An acquaintance of mine attempted suicide over a divorce and was immediately "Baker Acted" for 4 months after her ICU recovery in a state mental lock down facility until deemed healthy enough to be released.

Anyone know of this?

Title: Re: How do you have someone involuntarily committed (Baker Acted)?
Post by: Matt on February 03, 2011, 08:59:52 AM

The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 (commonly known as the "Baker Act" is a Florida statute allowing for involuntary examination of an individual.

The Baker Act allows for involuntary examination (what some call emergency or involuntary commitment). It can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians or mental health professionals. There must be evidence that the person

has a mental illness (as defined in the Baker Act) and

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 over 100 Florida Department of Children and Families-designated receiving facilities statewide.

There are many possible outcomes following examination of the patient. This includes the release of the individual to the community (or other community placement), a petition for involuntary inpatient 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.


So it's a Florida law but maybe it's been copied by other states?

I'm in the western US too.  In my state, if someone is found to be a danger to herself or to others, she can be institutionalized for up to a year.  A friend of mine - his wife developed schizophrenia and refused medication;  she was court-ordered to take the meds and a local facility was ordered to administer them;  but she refused and that institution didn't do their job.  So then she was institutionalized, in a Midwestern state since she had gone there without the court's knowledge.

Long story short, I'm sure the law varies a lot from state to state.  Most states have their laws online now - tough to search but maybe you can find something, or do a short (maybe free) consultation with a local lawyer to find out more.

Title: Re: How do you have someone involuntarily committed (Baker Acted)?
Post by: Skip on February 03, 2011, 10:19:00 AM
Back in In 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that involuntary hospitalization and/or treatment violates an individual's civil rights in O'Connor v. Donaldson. Donaldson was held in a mental institution for 15 years against his will (starting in 1956).


This ruling forced individual states to change their statutes. For example, the individual must be exhibiting behavior that is a danger to himself or others in order to be held, the hold must be for evaluation only and a court order must be received for more than very short term treatment or hospitalization (typically no longer than 72 hours).

Interestingly, Donaldson involuntary incarceration was in Florida.   

The Florida Mental Health Act, better known as the Baker Act (named after Maxine Baker, former State representative from Miami) which became Law in 1972 was passed to limit the ability to involuntarily commit someone.  The Baker Act, creates a system of rights for persons with mental illnesses as well as their due process rights when held in mental health facilities.