Baker Act General Goal & History
Floridas Baker Act, also known as the Florida Mental Health Act, is a law encompassed in Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes that provides comprehensive legal procedures when it comes to mental health treatment and examination.
The law was enacted in 1971 and named after Maxine Baker, a Miami State Representative who sponsored the Act and intended for it to
Encourage voluntary commitments as opposed to involuntary, to separate the process of hospitalization from the process of legal incompetency, to increase community care of persons with mental illnesses, and to facilitate persons return to normal community life. Referring to the treatment of persons with mental illness before the passage of the bill, Representative Baker stated in the name of mental health, we deprive of their most precious possession liberty.
What Happens When Someone Gets Baker Acted In Florida
The patient will be admitted to a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment if the problem can be traced back to something else. Inpatient units are the most common type of psychiatric hospitalization in the United States.
They are usually located in large urban centers, such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., or in rural areas, like the Ozarks of Missouri or the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.
The majority of these facilities are state-run, meaning that they are run by the state government, rather than by a private company like a hospital or a nursing home. Because of their size and location, they tend to be larger and more expensive than outpatient facilities, which are typically smaller and less expensive to operate.
If Your Loved One Has Been Baker Acted Please Call Us At 706
Floridas Baker Act is the law that allows police, doctors, and family members to have someone committed for an involuntary 72-hour mental health examination. Both children and adults may be Baker Acted, and it can be a very scary thing for everyone involved. This page is designed to give you an outline of what you might expect if it happens to a loved one, but bear in mind that things move very quickly during Baker Act proceedings. Its important to call or email about your legal options as soon as you can.
If a doctor or police officer has reason to believe that a person has a mental illness requiring an involuntary mental health examination, then the person may be Baker Acted based on the following criteria:
1.The person has refused voluntary examination OR the person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary AND
2.a.Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself such neglect or refusal poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being and it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services OR
2.b.There is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.
Serving all of Florida
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What Happens After The Baker Act Is Invoked
Once the act is invoked, the individual is taken to a mental health facility for examination. Law enforcement will pick them up and transport them to the nearest Baker Act receiving facility. Adults can be held at the facility for a maximum of 72 hours unless a ruling is made to extend this period. Minors are only allowed to be held for 12 hours. All patients held more than 12 hours must be examined by a mental health professional within 24 hours of being admitted. Treatment, if needed, will be rendered based on this assessment.
What Is It Like To Be Baker Acted
No matter which of the three methods are used, it all starts with the person being picked up by a law enforcement officer. That is, unless a person is already in a receiving facility. For example, if a hospital serves a receiving facility and the person goes to the ER for care, whether related or unrelated to mental illness. The attending physician may determine that the person meets the criteria for the Baker Act and hold the person at the facility.
If the person is picked up by an officer, they will be taken one of three places:
During the examination, the professional will:
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They Dont Understand That An Exam Is Necessary
A secondary component of this process is that the person must have refused a voluntary examination when it was offered to them. If that is not the case, their mental illness is making it impossible for them to understand why and how an exam like this is necessary. At the same time, the person must be suffering from neglect or may cause harm to themselves or other people if they do not receive this care.
In these situations, the Baker Act may apply. The law encourages a person to receive voluntary mental health, but when that is not utilized, it is possible for family members, law enforcement, health professionals, or others to petition the circuit court for involuntary examinations. If that occurs, the following steps happen.
When An Individual Is Admitted To A Baker Act Facility
An individual who is admitted to a baker facility act is evaluated for their financial ability to pay for services. If the individual is found to be in need of services, he or she may be admitted for a period of up to 90 days.
The individual shall be provided with a copy of his or her medical record and shall have the opportunity to review the medical records of all other individuals who have been admitted under this section during the preceding 90-day period. In the case of a child, the childs parent, guardian, or custodian shall also have access to the patients medical and mental health records.
A child shall not be denied admission for failure to comply with the provisions of this subsection unless the failure is due to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. This subsection does not apply to any person who has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have committed an act that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult.
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How To Address The Situation While Retaining Your Employment
If youve shared the reason for your absence with your employer, your supervisors are required to keep the matter private. This means you dont need to share any details with your coworkers about why you were gone or what youve gone through. If your employer does share this information and it creates a hostile work environment for you, you have the right to sue your employer for damages.
What your employer is entitled to request is regular drug screenings and a note from your physician that verifies youre fit to perform your duties. These matters will be kept private, so if youre worried about what your coworkers may think of your absence, rest assured you dont need to go into great detail about why you were away. Their most likely response will be to welcome you back and help you get caught up on what you missed while you were gone.
If you feel overwhelmed by your mental health problems, dont hesitate to get help. Contact us today by giving us a call at 299-0618 to speak with one of our understanding counselors. We can guide you through the next steps to take to ensure a quick recovery while maintaining your employment.
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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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Finding Treatment For A Loved One With Mental Illness Or Addiction
Choosing to seek involuntary treatment for a loved one with mental illness or a substance use disorder can be one of the hardest decisions a person makes.
Written by the Addiction Resource Editorial Staff
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Florida Department of Children and FamiliesSubstance Abuse & Mental Health
See A Top Mental Health Psychologist After Baker Act In Florida
If you find yourself unsure what to do after Baker Act, I can help.
Im Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in eating disorder treatment and other long term conditions, including addictions, bipolar, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, cognitive behavioral therapy, anxiety treatment, depression treatment, and much more.
Have any questions about the recovery process? Id be happy to answer them. Simply reach out to me and Ill be sure to answer anything you want to know.
I look forward to helping you obtain a brighter tomorrow.
Just a reminder, Dr. Boyers does not participate in any insurance plans. This means that she cannot accept your insurance for payment. She will make every effort to assist you with the filing of the proper paperwork so that you may get reimbursed by your insurance carrier. However, this is not a guarantee that your insurance will reimburse you for your treatment. Every insurance policy is written differently so it is important that you speak to your insurance regarding your out-of-network mental health coverage prior to your first session.
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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:
Who Can Initiate The Marchman Act
The Marchman Act is generally initiated through a petition process. This requires that a person who wishes to initiate the Marchman Act file a petition with the local county court.
Those who can file a petition for a Marchman Act:
- three non-relative adults with knowledge of the persons impairment
In emergency situations, such as a drug overdose, the Marchman Act can also be invoked by a law enforcement officer or physician.
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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
Note that in the latter example, the initial three-day holding period may be longer if a weekend or a holiday falls within that period. In that case, the petition must be filed on the next business day.
If the facility administrator has filed a petition for involuntary placement, a hearing will be held within five business days. The only exception is if the subject of the Baker Act requests and is granted a continuance from the court.
The individual has a right to representation. Unless a private attorney is hired, a public defender will be appointed to represent them. An independent expert examination can be provided by the court on behalf of the person.
The state attorney represents the state. However, one of the facility professionals who filed the petition must be present as a witness.
The court first hears testimony as to whether the individual is competent to elect voluntary treatment. If they are not, a guardian advocate is appointed.
A Law Enforcement Officer
A law enforcement officer has the authority take someone meeting the Baker Act criteria into custody and transport them to the nearest receiving facility.
Generally, this starts with a phone call from a friend, family member, or bystander after witnessing behavior indicating the person may be mentally ill and is in danger.
Once again, the officer files a written report detailing the circumstances regarding the person being taken under custody. Ultimately, this report becomes part of the clinical record.
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What Is The Marchman Act
Floridas Marchman Act is similar to the Baker Act, with the primary difference being that it applies to crises involving substance misuse or chemical dependency, not mental illness.
This provides emergency assistance and the temporary, involuntary detention of adults or children who require a substance use evaluation and treatment.
Florida Marchman Act initiation criteria include:
- the person is unable to control their substance use
- the person has refused a voluntary assessment
- the person has inflicted harm against their self or another person if they are not involuntarily admitted
- the person is believed to be incapable of rational decision-making to decide for their self the need for treatment
Where Can I Take Someone Who Is Mentally Unstable
If you can do it safely, take your family member to the nearest hospital emergency department. If they dont want to go to the hospital, call the emergency number. It can feel like the last resort, but it can save lives.
If you are unable to get to an emergency room in time to save your loved one, you may be able to call the police. The police are trained to respond to calls for help, and they can help you find a safe place to stay while you wait for an ambulance to arrive.
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What To Do After The Baker Act
If you or a loved one was provided treatment through the Baker Act, further treatment should be sought to prevent future setbacks. One of the most common mistakes people make after the Baker Act is to either do nothing or just keep with the same treatment as before. In some cases, sticking with your treatment is just fine but for many, it is an indicator that you might need something more intensive, especially if you have been admitted to a hospital via the Baker Act more than once. The Baker Act is to be used for emergencies only and not as a way of keeping someone on track or to stabilize him or her.
After a Baker Act, you might want to have your most important members of your support network come in to a meeting with your outpatient mental health team to learn more about how they can support you and also provide important information to your team. Having a team of professionals who you feel safe and confident in is important for your long-term well-being. The same is true of your support network. Those individuals who help support you need to be fully educated and informed about your mental illness so that they can be most effective.
A clinical psychologist can help you get to the root causes of your problems and can help you learn new skills to manage your mental illness more effectively and to move forward to a brighter future.