What is an involuntary commitment?
An involuntary commitment is a civil, legal proceeding which allows for an alcohol or drug dependent individual who is dangerous as a result of that use, to be placed in a treatment setting against his/her will.
How is an involuntary commitment initiated?
Initiating an involuntary commitment requires that a three-party petition for commitment be filed with the court after an initial screening process has been completed by Tellurian UCAN, Inc (223.3311).
What is a petitioner?
A petitioner is an individual who completes a written affidavit requesting and initiating the involuntary commitment procedure.
Who may be a petitioner?
- Petitioners must be at least 18 years of age and must be individuals considered to be psychologically stable and responsible. At least one of the petitioners must have recent (usually within the past 6-12 months) firsthand knowledge of the alcoholic/drug dependent person’s behavior.
- Firsthand knowledge means that you have personally witnessed the use and associated behavior of the individual to be committed. It is highly desirable that all the petitioners have some firsthand knowledge of the individual’s behavior, but it is not required.
What is an affidavit?
An affidavit is a sworn statement in writing made under oath or an affirmation before an officer or notary.
What happens after the affidavits are filed?
A judge will review the documents and if he/she believes that the statutory requirements are met, he/she will issue an order for the Sheriff’s Department to pick up your loved one and place them involuntarily at a treatment facility pending their Probable Cause Hearing in court.
Will the person I am attempting to commit know what I am saying about him/her?
The person to be committed will receive a copy of the affidavits and will be present at the court hearings to hear the testimony presented.
What happens at the hearings?
- Within 72 hours of the initial detention (exclusive of weekends and holidays) a Probable Cause Hearing will be held. The individual to be committed will be there with an attorney, in most case appointed by the State Public Defender’s Office initially. As Assistant Corporation Counsel will appear on behalf of the State and the petition.
- The purpose of the hearing is to present testimony to show cause why the individual should be held in a treatment facility for further evaluation of his/her addition. The individual may stipulate at this hearing and agree to voluntarily seek treatment. In that event, the proceedings are put on hold, so to speak, and remain open to allow the individual to voluntarily complete treatment.
- If the individual does not stipulate and if probable cause is found to believe that he/she is indeed alcoholic/drug dependent, dangerous, and demonstrating substantial health impairment and disruption of social or economic function, an Order for Detention will be signed by a Circuit court Judge.
- The individual will then be returned to the treatment facility where they were initially placed and remain there until their final hearing. During that time he/she will be examined by court-appointed physicians to determine if they are indeed dependent and in need of treatment.
- If the person to be committed is found dependent, will benefit from treatment, and is dangerous and meets the other statutory standards he/she will be committed by the judge. He/she will then be placed in a treatment facility. It may or may not be in a locked facility. The treatment may include medication, therapy groups, and other programs deemed appropriate by the treatment director.
- The person can remain committed for a period not to exceed 90 days. If he/she leaves the treatment facility prior to being discharged by the treatment staff, an order will be issued for the Sheriff’s Department to pick him/her up and return him/her to the facility. In a few cases, he/she will be transferred to a locked facility.
Will the commitment guarantee my loved one will recover?
No. Since the illness of addiction is not a curable one, there is no guaranteed that your loved one will maintain long-term sobriety. However, In most cases, the individual will be in a protective environment, abstinent from alcohol or their other drug(s) of choice for a period of time long enough to experience an appropriate therapeutic intervention. During that time, most individuals acknowledge their addiction and desire to accept the needed treatment and support for long-term recovery.
Is there a fee to initiate an Involuntary Commitment?
No. There is no fee to initiate these proceedings.