What Are the Criteria for Florida's Baker Act?

In order to admit an individual involuntarily for mental health evaluation and treatment under Florida's Baker Act, the patient must be mentally ill, have refused admission or be unable make the decision to submit to treatment, and be in danger of neglect or causing serious harm to self or others, advises the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller of Escambia County, Florida. Law enforcement, mental health professionals and courts may initiate the proceedings by submitting the individual for examination.

Florida's Baker Act provides for the voluntary or involuntary commitment of mentally ill individuals in danger of harming themselves or others. Individuals may be held for no longer than 72 hours after involuntary commitment. After the involuntary commitment period ends, the mental health facility must release the patient, allow or request the patient undergo further voluntary treatment, or petition to extend the involuntary commitment of the patient, explains The Health Law Firm.

A patient may fight an involuntary commitment by filing a writ of habeas corpus, advises the Health Law Firm. Patient advocates and family members may also petition for the patient's release. A mental health facility must release any patient who has family members willing and able to prevent harm that may occur after the patient's release.