The Process of Baker Acting Someone in Florida
Many individuals deal with severe mental health issues on a daily basis. Sometimes, people with mental health conditions are unable to see the full extent of their issues. If a loved one of an individual with a mental illness believes they are a danger to themselves or others, they may decide to utilize The Baker Act. So, what all goes into baker acting someone in Florida? Let’s take a look.
The Baker Act encourages individuals to seek voluntary mental health help. However, if an individual will not voluntarily receive help for a severe mental health crisis, The Baker Act allows family members to request that their loved one be placed under an involuntary mental health examination. While this may seem scary, there are guidelines and criteria set in place to ensure that The Baker Act is not abused.
If you are worried about your loved one’s safety as a result of their mental health, you may be wondering how to Baker Act someone in Florida. For someone to be Baker Acted, they must meet specific criteria to be considered as emotionally and mentally impaired.
The Baker Act Criteria
As written in the Florida Statute 394, The Baker Act process must begin and end with the criteria set in place. Unfortunately, sometimes individuals are placed under involuntary mental health examination when they do not meet the criteria as it’s stated. To prevent the abuse of this act, it is important to understand The Baker Act criteria.
By Florida law, The Baker Act criteria are as follows:
“A person may be taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination if the following three criteria are met:
1. There is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill. This means an impairment of the mental or emotional processes that exercise conscious control of one’s actions or of the ability to perceive or understand reality, which impairment substantially interferes with a person’s ability to meet the ordinary demands of living, regardless of etiology. For the purposes of this part, the term does not include retardation or developmental disability as defined in Chapter 393, intoxication, or conditions manifested only by antisocial behavior or substance abuse impairment.
2. Because of his or her mental illness, the person has refused voluntary examination or is unable to determine whether the examination is necessary; And
3. Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect resulting in real and present threat of substantial harm that can’t be avoided through the help of others; or there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to self or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.”
According to the law, there are specific people qualified to enact The Baker Act. For an involuntary mental health assessment to be completed, a family member of the emotionally unwell individual must report to one of the following:
- Clinical Psychologist
- Psychiatric Nurse
- Clinical Social Worker
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- Physician’s Assistant
What is the Full Process of Being Baker Acted?
If you’re trying to baker act someone in Florida, you probably have a lot of questions. Here is one you can expect each step of the way.
After an individual is Baker Acted and arrives at a facility, a petition for involuntary examination must be filed by the facilitating administrator and mental health professional within 72 hours. Additionally, a psychiatrist and a second mental health professional must have personally examined the individual to ensure they meet The Baker Act criteria.
The individual being Baker Acted will be appointed a public defender to represent them in court. To explain, the state attorney will represent the state, rather than the mental health professional enacting The Baker Act. Additionally, the state must hold this court date within five days of the initial Baker Act.
During court, mental health professionals will become witnesses to determine whether the individual is incompetent to consent to treatment. If it is determined that the person in question is incompetent, a guardian will be appointed. Lastly, if the court decides the individual requires more treatment on an involuntary basis, they will be transferred to an inpatient mental health facility. Individuals who are baker acted and sent to an inpatient treatment center may be required to stay for up to six months.
Examination at the Receiving Mental Health Facility
Once the individual arrives at the receiving facility, they must be examined immediately by a clinical psychologist or a physician experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Additionally, the individual must not be released without documented approval by a licensed psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.
The receiving mental health facility must send a copy of the court order, law enforcement officer’s report, or a professional’s certificate proving the involuntary examination to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). This is required to be completed upon the patient’s arrival or within the next business day.
Discharge or Release
Individuals may not be held for longer than 72 hours at a receiving mental health facility conducting the initial evaluation.
Within the 72-hour examination period, one of the following things must take place:
- Unless charged with a crime, the person must be released
- The person must be released for outpatient treatment
- The person must ask or express a desire for continued treatment, voluntarily
- A petition for involuntary placement must be filed with the circuit court by the facility’s mental health administrator
Baker Acting Someone in Florida: Involuntary Mental Health Treatment
If your loved one is suffering from severe mental health issues and refuses to accept treatment, you might be considering utilizing The Baker Act. Watching your loved one struggle with mental health and become a danger to themselves is extremely devastating. Baker Acting someone in Florida is a confusing process, however, it is often the only option for people worried about their loved ones.
At CWC Recovery, we understand the complex nature of mental health, allowing us to provide effective mental health treatment and promote recovery for our patients. If your loved one has been Baker Acted and has been required to attend an inpatient or outpatient mental health facility, look no further. CWC Recovery is here to help. Give us a call today for more information on The Baker Act, how it works, and how we can help.