What Are Some Florida Baker Act Laws?


Quick Answer

The Florida Mental Health Act, or Baker Act, legalizes involuntary placement in a mental health facility if there is evidence an individual is unable or unwilling to make responsible decisions, the Treatment Advocacy Center states. Initiating parties must prove the patient is a self-endangerment risk or incapable of self-sufficiency.

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Full Answer

Chapter 394 of the Mental Health Act grants the right to pursue an involuntary mental examination on a companion?s behalf if the person poses a threat and has refused a voluntary examination, according to the Florida Legislature. The initiating party is expected to follow all voluntary channels, including explaining the circumstances and necessity for an examination, before requesting a mandatory evaluation. The patient has the right to refuse treatment unless he is a minor or was ruled legally unfit to make such decisions. Common reasons for being unfit include a high risk of self-neglect or bodily harm.

Medical facilities generally have 72 hours to complete examinations and provide conclusive findings before they must release patients who were detained involuntarily, the Florida Legislature explains. To protect the rights of admitted individuals, the law prohibits medical facilities from treating patients in a manner resembling criminal detention. For example, facilities are required to use the least restrictive practices possible, and restraints are only allowed if the patient poses a physical threat to himself or others. An admitted patient and any advocates have the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the grounds for the detention.

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