The Florida Mental Health Act, also known as the “Baker Act,” was enacted in 1971 as a means of helping families and loved ones seek evaluation and involuntary services of a mentally ill individual who:
- is incapable of determining the need for care due to mental illness;
- is likely to suffer neglect or refuses to care for himself or herself, posing a threat to his or her well-being; and,
- may pose a danger to themselves or others.
Involuntary Examination court orders may be issued for examination up to 72 hours. Involuntary Placement petitions are heard within five days, with a public defender appointed to represent the patient. If the court concludes the patient meets statutory criteria, it may order involuntary treatment for up to six months.
Law Enforcement are also authorized to transport an individual to an evaluation facility if there is reason to believe the individual’s behavior meets statutory guidelines for involuntary examination under the Baker Act.
Meridian staff is also qualified to advise those struggling with substance use issues under the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, derived from a combination of 1970 statutes commonly referred to as the “Marchman Act.”
A Petition for Involuntary Marchman Act Assessment may be filed by family or Meridian staff when there is good faith reason to believe an individual is:
- substance-abuse impaired and the impairment has caused a loss of substance use self-control; and,
- suffering with drug or alcohol use that appears to pose danger to the individual or others.
Marchman Act Involuntary Treatment petitions are heard within five days, with a public defender appointed to represent the patient. If the court concludes the patient meets statutory criteria, it may order involuntary treatment for up to 60 days.