IS BAKER ACT THE RIGHT CHOICE? When you have a loved one that may be a danger to themselves or others time is of the essence. The Florida Mental Health Act allows you to take steps to protect people you care about. To obtain involuntary examination, per Florida Statute 394.463, the following criteria must be met:

  • There is reason to believe that the person has a mental illness.
  • The person has refused voluntary examination after conscientious explanation and disclosure of the purpose of the examination or
  • The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary; and
  • Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself; such neglect or refusal poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being; and it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services; or
  • There is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.

When the criteria is met, an Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Examination can be filed with the Court. When granted, the Order is valid for 7 days. The individual may be asked to go to an applicable and nearby facility. If the individual will not voluntarily go, a law enforcement officer or other designated agent of the court, will take the person into custody and bring them to the facility. The person must be examined within 48 hours. The examination period must be for up to 72 hours. Thereafter, the person may be released and even if not, the time cannot exceed 6 months. If the individual’s mental illness requires a more permanent solution, an alternative may be an emergency guardianship. The Petition for Emergency Guardianship could be granted in not much time than a Petition for Involuntary Examination. Guardianship could be a more long term solution.