Families along the Treasure Coast in Florida and elsewhere in the state often suffer untold grief if a family member is abusing alcohol or drugs or has shown signs of an acute mental health disorder. These two statutes were adopted to provide family members with speedy and effective remedies if a parent or sibling or child exhibits the kinds of destructive behavior that the statutes were intended to control.
The Marchman Act
The Marchman Act is a Florida statute that is intended to assist individuals who have lost control over their substance abuse and do not appreciate their need for help. Most importantly, the Act is directed at individuals who have become a danger to themselves or others. To invoke the Marchman Act, a blood relative, a spouse or three concerned and unrelated persons can file a petition with the court in any county where the subject of the proceeding can be found.
The court can either review the petition and order the impaired individual to appear for a hearing or issue an ex parte order (an order granted without a hearing) directing law enforcement officers to apprehend the person and deliver the individual to an appropriate receiving facility. The individual will be evaluated by the facility, and a recommendation about future treatment delivered to the judge. The judge will make a decision about whether the person should be placed in a mental health institution for treatment.
The Baker Act
The Baker Act is similar to the Marchman Act, but it is directed at all mental health disorders. Under this statute, a judge can order the incarceration in an appropriate mental health treatment facility for evaluation and treatment. The Baker Act evaluation may be done involuntarily if the following conditions are satisfied:
- The person has refused voluntary examination or is unable to make such a decision;
- Without care, the individual is likely suffer from neglect and be a substantial threat to his or her own well-being;
- Without care or treatment, the person is determined to be a substantial threat of harm to himself or others.
Invoking these acts in Florida
Invoking either the Baker or Marchman Act is only the first step to alleviating the subject’s personal problems. Regardless of which statute is invoked, an appropriate care plan must be devised and followed. Anyone who is wondering about invoking either statute may wish to consult an experienced family law attorney for an evaluation of the evidence and a recommendation about how to proceed.