The Baker Act is a law in the State of Florida that allows family members or some licensed authorities to call for urgent medical attention and evaluation for people who might be having mental health issues.
This provision was created in 1972 to provide aid to people who are at risk of harming themselves or members of the public. These individuals are often unable to determine on their own that they need to seek medical help.
The act was not only created to ensure the safety of the person and to prevent such person from inflicting harm on anyone, but was also enacted with the main goal of encouraging voluntary commitments.
The Baker Act should not be mistaken for the Marchman Act, which primarily deals with drug and substance abuse patients.
What Happens If You’re Detained On A Baker Act In Florida?
There are two types of Baker Acts: Voluntary Baker Acts and Involuntary Baker Acts.
The Voluntary Baker Act applies to a person who is able to consent to needing mental health treatment. If such person is an adult, they would then be admitted to a hospital or treatment center. A person under the age of 17 needs the consent of a guardian in order to proceed.
A person is said to be under an Involuntary Baker Act if admitted to a Baker Act receiving facility after it has been ascertained that such persons is incompetent to make well-reasoned decisions. Such person is usually initially confined for a compulsory period of 72 hours.
For such an individual to be institutionalized in a Florida Baker Act receiving facility, he or she must meet certain requirements.
Such individual needs to be suffering from some sort of mental illness and must be believed to be a threat to self or can endanger the safety of others if released back into the society untreated.
Persons that are admitted involuntarily can be brought into the facility by law enforcement agents, health workers, or by a circuit court ex parte order.
Defenses To The Baker Act
Although the idea behind the Baker Act is a commendable one, there are instances where you could be committed involuntay, when you should not have been. When this happens, there are things you can do to get out of the involuntary confinement.
An involuntarily confined patient or the patient’s guardian can petition for a writ of habeas corpus to request a hearing challenging the involuntary confinement. Before you go ahead to file a petition, a family member, with the help of a lawyer, can ensure your release during the compulsory 72-hour window.
The confining facility is likely to take your release more seriously if it is done with the help of a lawyer and family members. The Baker Act itself specifically provides that it is inappropriate for a person to be confined when harm may be avoided through the help of willing friends or family members.
What A Baker Act Attorney Can Do For You
Although this law is meant to ensure public safety and encourage voluntary commitments, it is not impossible to be wrongfully detained under the Baker Acts on unfounded grounds.
In this case, you might need the help of a Baker Act attorney who would file a motion for your release, ask for transfer, provide legal advice and guidance, and can help review Baker Act facility invoices.
Beyond this, an attorney can be of great help if you are not receiving appropriate care to establish a legal presence to ensure that your interests and rights are being protected.
If you believe you or someone you know has been wrongfully detained under the Baker Act in Orlando or throughout Central Florida, contact Frost Law for a free consultation today at (407) 670-5569.