Self Help: Ex Parte Baker Act & Marchman Act

The Mental Health Program is designed to provide you with information regarding Ex Parte Baker & Marchman Act Petitions for Involuntary Examination and Assessment and Stabilization. As in all matters involving legal issues, it is recommended that you obtain the services of a lawyer. It is important for you to understand that the Court and the Program staff does not represent you, YOU represent yourself.

If you wish to proceed without a lawyer, the Mental Health Program staff will:

  • Explain procedures
  • Inform you about additional court requirements
  • Assist you in contacting the mental health facility

The staff will not:

  • Give you legal advice
  • Represent you in court

BAKER ACT (Mental Health): An Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Examination:

If this petition is granted, an individual may be detained and provided with emergency services, a mental health evaluation, and treatment when required.

An Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Examination may be filed by:
Anyone who has observed the behavior and can describe the actions of a person that cause them to think the person has a mental illness and requires a mental health examination.  The petition must meet the following criteria:

There is reason to believe that a person is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness:

  • The person has refused voluntary examination OR is unable to determine whether an examination is necessary.

AND

  • The person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself, posing a threat to his or her well-being OR there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause seriously bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.

You must provide the court with sworn written testimony before a notary that meets the criteria set forth by Florida law. The person must be in the county where the petition is filed and cannot be in jail.  Include the person’s health insurance information, if any, in the petition. The petitioner should also indicate whether the person is a veteran and/or receiving military benefits from the government. By completing the petition, you are requesting that the court enter an order for the person to be involuntarily transported and examined at a designated mental health facility.

When and where to file the Petition for Involuntary Examination:

You may file Petition for Involuntary Examination at the offices of the Clerk of Court Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.

There is no filing fee required to file a Petition for Involuntary Examination.

What happens after the petition is filed:

The court will review the petition. If the criteria above have been met, an Order for Involuntary Examination will be entered by the Court without a hearing and the Sheriff may be ordered to transport the person immediately to the nearest designated mental health facility. The facility must examine the person within 72 hours. If the examination by a psychiatrist determines that the person will need to be involuntarily placed for treatment, the facility will petition the court for a hearing within the 72 hours.  An involuntary examination does not guarantee the person will be required to undergo long term treatment.

If the criteria for an ex parte involuntary examination have not been met, the Court may dismiss the ex parte petition or set the case for a hearing.  If set for a hearing, the person will be served with a copy of the ex parte petition and receive notice of the hearing.  The petitioner will also receive notice of the hearing and must attend the hearing in order to provide testimony in support of the petition. If the petitioner fails to appear at the hearing, the petition will be dismissed. 

Additional requirements when filing a Petition for Examination:

The petitioner must contact an appropriate facility and confirm that they have bedspace available before they file the petition.  


MARCHMAN ACT (Substance Abuse): An Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization:

The Marchman Act Petition for Involuntary Assessment may be filed when there is a good faith reason to believe an individual is substance abuse impaired, with or without a co-occuring mental health disorder, and because of the impairment, has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance.

A Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization may be filed:

When there is reason to believe that a person is substance abuse impaired (with or without a co-occuring mental disorder) and:

  • Because of the impairment or disorder, he or she has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse. AND
  1. Is in need of substance abuse services, and by reason of substance abuse impairment, the person’s judgment is so impaired that the person is incapable of appreciating the need for, and is unable to make a rational decision in regard to, substance abuse services. OR
  2. Without care or treatment, is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself; and that such neglect or refusal poses a threat of substantial harm to himself or herself; and that it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through help of family or friends, or there is substantial likelihood that the person has inflicted, attempted or threatened to inflict, or unless admitted, is likely to inflict, physical harm on himself or herself or another.

The petition may only be filed by:

The person’s spouse or guardian, any relative of the person, a director of a licensed service provider, a private practitioner, or any adult who has direct personal knowledge of the person’s substance abuse impairment.

In the case of a minor, only the parents, legal guardian/custodian or licensed service provider can file a petition.

You must provide the court with sworn written testimony before a notary that meets the criteria set forth by Florida law. The person must be in the county where the petition is filed and cannot be in jail.  Include the person’s health insurance information, if any, in the petition. The petitioner should also indicate whether the person is a veteran and/or receiving military benefits from the government. By completing the petition, you are asking the court to enter an order requiring the person to be involuntarily transported and assessed at a designated mental health facility.

When and where to file a Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization or Petition for Involuntary Treatment:

You may file Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization at the offices of the Clerk of Court Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM..

There is no filing fee required to file a Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization.

What happens after the petition is filed:

The court will review the petition. If the criteria stated above have been met, an Order for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization will be issued by the Court without a hearing, and the Sheriff may be ordered to transport the person immediately to the nearest designated licensed service provider.  The service provider must assess the person within 72 hours. The assessment and stabilization period may not exceed 5 days. 

If the petition does not meet the criteria for an ex parte involuntary examination, the Court may dismiss the ex parte petition or set a hearing on the petition. If set for a hearing, the person will be served with a copy of the ex parte petition and receive notice of the hearing.  The petitioner will also receive notice of the hearing and must attend the hearing in order to provide testimony in support of the petition. The petitioner’s failure to appear at the hearing will result in dismissal of the petition. 

What happens after the Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization:

If the assessment by a service provider states that the person will need to be involuntarily placed for treatment, the facility may petition the court.. Alternatively, the Petitioner may file a Petition for Involuntary Servicesfor the patient.  Time limits apply to filing a Petition for Involuntary Services.  After the petition is filed, a hearing date is set. The assessment results/discharge summary must be provided to the Court as evidence for the hearing, and a summons to appear at the hearing is issued and served on the patient.  At the hearing the court will hear all the evidence and determine if the Order for Involuntary Services should be granted.

Additional requirements when filing a Petition for Assessment and Stabilization and Petition for Involuntary Services:

The petitioner must contact an appropriate facility and confirm that they have bedspace available before they file the petition. 

Forms:


Contact Information:

Candace Thomas Email: ThomasC@circuit8.org
Phone: (352) 374-3694