Its An Alternative To Jail Or Prison
Something else that has a strong correlation with drug use? Getting in trouble with the law. Approximately 20% of all incarcerated Americans are there for a drug offense. Unfortunately, as many prisoner-advocates have pointed out, most jails and prisons are poorly equipped to treat substance abuse. Of the more than 3,200 jails in the country, only 23 provide medically-assisted treatments such as Suboxone or methadone. The Baker Act can circumvent criminal processing and have them go to a facility to receive help for drug use, rather than immediately being imprisoned.
How Does The Baker Act Work
When an individual is believed to meet the statutory criteria for involuntary institutionalization, he or she is taken into custody and delivered to a mental health facility for examination. The law applies equally to all persons in Florida, regardless of age. There are, however, some differences in the amount of time that adults and minors can be held. The facility can hold an adult for no more than 72 hours, during which an involuntary mental health examination will be performed. Minors can only be held for 12 hours before the examination is initiated.
If the patient is held for longer than 12 hours, the law requires that he or she be examined by a health care professional within the first 24 hours of institutionalization. That examination must include an assessment of the patients medical stability, and must determine whether there are other factors at play other than psychiatric problems.
Facilities are required to provide notice to patient guardians, attorneys or other representatives no later than 24 hours after admission, and must document all contact attempts. For minors, notification must be provided as soon as the child arrives at the facility though that parent or guardian notification can be delayed by a full day if the facility suspects abuse and has contacted the appropriate central abuse hotline.
The Baker Act: What Residents Of Florida Should Know
The Baker Act, formally known as the Florida Mental Health Act, gives officials, as well as those who deem it necessary, the right to examine those who are suspected of suffering from a mental illness within the state of Florida, even against their will. Involuntary exams of those in question would take place after the accused has refused a voluntary exam, is shown to be unable to care for themselves , or if alternative methods of treatment have been declared to be ineffective.
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Should You Baker Act A Drug Addict Or Not
Although the Baker Act strictly applies to mental health treatment rather than substance abuse, it can still provide many benefits to a person addicted to drugsparticularly since the two conditions go hand-in-hand . Here are a few things to consider before invoking one of Floridas most powerful laws.
Why Does The Baker Act Exist
Similar to the Florida Marchman Act , the purpose is safety and well-being. While people are not usually feeling warm and fuzzy when being Baker Acted, the end result can be life-saving.
Some of the greatest advantages of the Baker Act include:
- Preventing further psychological distress in the afflicted individual
- Stopping the individual from harming themselves or others
- Preserving the rights of the mentally ill
- Giving the individual the opportunity to receive professional treatment that can help them control the symptoms of their mental illness
- Ensures the safety of the public
- Allows for a guardian to be appointed to manage the individuals personal and professional dealings while he or she is being treated
Sometimes, mental illness prevents someone from realizing how deep their struggles are and how much help they need to live a safe and happy life. Its quite common for the cloud of mental illness to make individuals think it is everyone else who has a problem, not them. The Baker Act allows concerned parties to force the individual to receive the treatment they need with the hope that once the fog is cleared, they will stay the course and live a healthier life.
Florida Department of Children and Families: Baker Act Manual.Florida Department of Children and Families: Baker Act Involuntary Examination Criteria, Processes and Timeframes.LegalMatch: Ex Parte Order.
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What Residents Of Florida Should Know
Although it is always wise to be aware of your state’s legal acts, residents of Florida should pay particular attention to the Baker Act because it could very well be applied to them or someone they care for. Residents should be well versed in this act should an occasion arise where they would need to use it. There are some main points that residents of Florida should know when it comes to the Baker Act.
If you or someone you know is planning on using the Baker Act, get the facts before moving onward. By being aware, you will be able to build a stronger case, thus increasing the likelihood that your case will be enforced. If a loved one has dementia, know that a nursing home or other authority may be able to trump your and the patient’s wishes in some instances. As with any complicated legal matter, the help of an attorney is advised.
Can A Person Refuse Treatment
If anyone you know has been Baker Acted , one of the most frequently asked questions is whether the patient has the right to refuse psychiatric medication. This is a common question by parents who are unsure about giving their young children psychiatric medicines. The solution to this issue is more complicated than it appears on the surface.
The Constitution protects an individuals right to refuse medication and other forms of medical care, including parents right to refuse to medicate their children. The right is derived from the concept of substantive due process and constitutional protections for adults privacy. The right of a parent or legal guardian to refuse medication for their children is founded on the most fundamental safeguards offered to parents about care and child-raising decisions for their children. The exception is if the sick person poses a danger to himself or others.
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The Court Orders The Evaluation
Once a person petitions the court providing information, the court issues an ex parte order. That means an involuntary evaluation is required. A judge must grant this order based on the information available. Then, a law enforcement officer takes the person into custody and transports them to a location for help.
What Is The Criteria For The Baker Act
The act only applies when certain criteria are met to prevent the law from being abused. For the Baker Act to be invoked, the person has to meet all three criteria:
- There is strong evidence that the individual is mentally ill.
- The person is refusing treatment due to their mental illness, or their mental illness as rendered them unable to determine if they need treatment or not.
- If the individual does not receive treatment, they are likely to suffer from neglect or harm themselves or others.
What is the process to invoke the Baker Act?
The Baker Act process starts in one of three ways:
The process depends on the urgency of the situation. If someone is actively threatening to harm themselves or someone else, you should call the police. They can safely detain the individual and take them to be evaluated by a mental health professional under the Baker Act.
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How Does The Process Work
The Baker Act encourages individuals to seek voluntary mental health help. However, if an individual is not open to voluntary treatment for a severe mental health crisis, family members, health professionals, law enforcement or others can ask the circuit court for an involuntary mental health examination.
Ordered by Court
A loved one or others can petition the Circuit Court to issue an ex parte order, which is an involuntary examination. If a judge grants the order, a law enforcement officer enforces the ruling by taking the person into custody and transporting them to the nearest receiving facility.
The court must conduct the involuntary placement hearing within five days. A court-appointed public defender represents the person unless they have other legal representation. The defendant has the right to an independent expert examination provided by the court.
The court considers testimony and evidence regarding whether the person is competent to consent to treatment. If found not competent, the court appoints a guardian advocate.
If the court finds the person meets the criteria for involuntary placement, they issue an order remanding the individual to an inpatient mental health facility for up to six months. The court has the option to extend this period.
Ordered by Health Professional
If the physician determines the persons medical condition has stabilized or is not an emergency, one of the following must occur:
What Happens After And How To Get Inpatient Drug Treatment
Immediately after being Baker Acted or having the Marchman Act invoked, an individual will be involuntarily held for examination. If a person has the Marchman Act invoked on him or her, he or she will be court-ordered to complete a determined number of days in treatment. If someone is Baker Acted, they will only be involuntarily held for up to 72 hours and then they are free to either follow the recommendations provided to them or go back to living their lives.
If it is determined that your loved one will need inpatient drug treatment, then you will have to find a facility that will be best for him or her. Since you are already connected to the courts, the county, and potentially mental health specialists, you can easily request referrals for inpatient drug treatment programs from them. This is ideal, as someone who has been involved in this process and who is familiar with your loved ones case can guide you towards the resources that can help most. You can also search online for inpatient drug treatment in the area.
When you are searching for treatment, it is important that you consider the following:
- What types of drug addiction they treat
- What their accreditations are
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What Happens After The Involuntary Examination Period
The involuntary examination period cannot exceed 72 hours for adults and 12 hours for minors. Within that time, a clinical psychologist or a physician experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders must examine the individual. After completion of the examination, one of the following must happen:
- The person is released unless charged with a crime.
- The person is released for outpatient treatment.
- The person gives informed consent for voluntary placement in a treatment facility.
- Medical professionals file a petition with the circuit court for involuntary placement.
The receiving facility cannot file a petition with the court for involuntary placement unless they have documented clear evidence the person is mentally ill, is in danger of self-neglect, and poses a threat to themselves or others.
Family And Medical Leave Act
The FMLA allows you to take up to six months off work due to medical needs that prevent you from being able to do your job. If youve been Baker Acted, the need for mental health treatment qualifies you for medical leave and your employer is required to approve your request. Keep in mind, though, that the FMLA doesnt require your employer to pay you while youre on leave.
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Basics Of The Florida Baker Act
The Florida Mental Health Act, more commonly known as the Baker Act, was passed to allow for the creation of mental health programs designed to reduce the occurrence, severity, duration, and disabling aspects of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Section 394.453, Florida Statutes.
The Baker Act contains a variety of provisions ranging from screening to appointment of legal guardians. However, the Baker Act is most commonly known for the involuntary evaluation and confinement provisions. Being involuntarily confined for a mental health exam in Florida is commonly called being Baker Acted.
The rights of a Baker Act patient are spelled out in Section 394.459, Florida Statutes. They include receiving a physical exam within 24 hours of arrival at the facility , Fla. Stats.) requesting a writ of habeas corpus in accordance with Chapter 79, Florida Statutes . Fla. Stats.).
The Baker Act Criteria
As written in the Florida Statute 394, The Baker Act process must begin and end with the criteria set in place. Unfortunately, sometimes individuals are placed under involuntary mental health examination when they do not meet the criteria as its stated. To prevent the abuse of this act, it is important to understand The Baker Act criteria.
By Florida law, The Baker Act criteria are as follows:
According to the law, there are specific people qualified to enact The Baker Act. For an involuntary mental health assessment to be completed, a family member of the emotionally unwell individual must report to one of the following:
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- Physicians Assistant
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Can A Person Be Released After Being Baker Acted
During the examination stage, its determined if they will be involuntarily admitted for treatment or released. After no more than 72 hours, the person is released and:
- Agrees to attend outpatient treatment.
- Gave express and informed consent to voluntary move to inpatient treatment.
- Had a petition filed with the circuit court for involuntary treatment, usually in an inpatient or hospital setting.
- Is taken by police if the Baker Act stemmed from a crime.
The Baker Act does not support indefinite holds. The facility can only hold them for maximum of 72 hours, or up to 5 days when an extension is granted. However, patients can be released at any point if their assessment determines that there is no basis for keeping them under the hold.
Florida Baker Act Criteria
In order to temporarily commit someone to a mental hospital they must meet the following criteria:
- The person is mentally ill .
- The person refuses a voluntary mental health evaluation or doesnt understand why one would be necessary.
- The person is a threat to themself or others, or the person is incapable of caring for themself.
A person may also choose to a voluntary Baker Act, but they must be willing and able to consent to treatment.
Behaviors that Indicate a Mental Health Crisis
In general, behaviors that can be considered indications of a mental emergency include the following:
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What Is The Baker Act
The Baker Act is an existing law that provides for temporary institutionalization of individuals who meet certain criteria. It can only be used by specific authorized persons, including judges, mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, and doctors. More importantly, the law is limited by the fact that those officials must have sound evidence suggesting that the individual might meet the Acts definition for mental illness. In addition, he must pose a risk of harm to himself or others or demonstrate self-neglect.
It should be noted that the statutory criteria require more than mere suspicion of mental illness or potential risk. The statute specifically calls for substantial evidence, which is much higher bar than simple suspicion. As a result, people cannot be involuntarily institutionalized simply because theyre acting strangely, refuse to seek psychiatric examinations, or have occasional mood swings or outbursts.
There must be ample evidence of possible mental illness, coupled with a strong potential for harm to self or others. Typically, that requires some sort of recent behavior that suggests a serious risk.
Under What Circumstances Is A Person Subject To The Baker Act
The Florida statute states that a person may be transported to an approved receiving facility for involuntary examination if they meet all the following criteria:
- They are mentally or emotionally impaired to the extent they cannot control their own actions or understand reality. This does not include substance abuse impairment or developmental disability.
- They have refused voluntary examination, or, because of a mental illness, they cannot understand that an examination is necessary.
- Without treatment, they may suffer personal neglect or may cause harm to themselves or others.
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What Happens During A 72 Hour Psych Hold
5150 or 72 hour hold This 72 hour period is sometimes referred to as an observation period. During this 72 hour period, the treatment team assesses whether the patient meets criteria for involuntary hospitalization. The law mandates that all patients must be treated in the least restrictive setting possible.
Quick Guide For Law Enforcement Officers
Sometimes its hard to know if you should Baker Act someone. You want to be a responsible officer and do the right thing to protect individuals and those nearby, but youre not sure whether to take a person to jail or to initiate the Baker Act and take the person to a receiving facility.
This guide has been developed by the Mental Health Coalition of Pinellas County to help you make that decision in the field. We have outlined some common behaviors of those in crisis and summarized things to be on the lookout for.
Behaviors to Look For
Individuals with mental illness who may need further evaluation typically exhibit a combination of the following behaviors, characteristics, or indicators of their illness:
NOTE: If you have any doubts, dont forget to contact your CIT Officers or one of the receiving facilities.
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