The Baker Act is a law that was designed to permit the involuntary (or voluntary) institutionalization and assessment of a person due to their mental and/or emotional health causing concern.
More specifically, The State of Florida or The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, otherwise referred to as the “Florida Baker Act”, is a means of providing individuals with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment when required, either on a voluntary or an involuntary basis.
This act is critical because the mandatory commitment and evaluation can help prevent the individual from hurting themselves and/or others. It also provides immediate intervention to help the individual get the treatment they may need.
A voluntary Baker Act is when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent or guardian of a person age 17 or under, makes an application for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis or treatment.
An involuntary Baker Act is when a person is taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination when there is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill, and because of his or her mental illness:
Yes, there is additional criterion for a voluntary and involuntary Florida Baker Act not included here. For an example, a law enforcement officer may transport an individual to a facility for evaluation if there is reason to believe that the individual’s behavior meets statutory guidelines for involuntary examination.
If you are willing to swear in a Petition for Involuntary Examination that you have personally witnessed an individual causing harm to themselves or others, an “Ex Parte” for an Involuntary Examination can be completed at the Clerk’s Office, Mental Health Division.
A family member or interested person may fill out the petition and affidavit in the Clerk’s Office. You will need to provide proper identification and have personally witnessed the individual’s actions.
Your sworn affidavit will be reviewed by the court. If the court believes, based on the evidence provided in the petition and affidavit, the judge will enter an order for the sheriff to pick up and transport the person to the nearest receiving facility.
The sheriff will make every attempt to take the person into custody and transport the person to a facility. If the person cannot be located by the sheriff, the sheriff will hold the order for seven (7) days and continue attempts to take the person into custody.
A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.
Florida Residents can call the Clerk’s Probate Division at 1-800-861-1768.
For more information, please call the Clerk of Court in the county where the individual in need resides as procedures may differ from county to county. If the individual in need resides in a State other than Florida. Then you should contact the Clerk of Court in that State.