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Florida Baker Act

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What is the Florida Baker Act?

In the State of Florida, the Florida Mental Health Act, or "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.

How are voluntary and involuntary Baker Act Admissions different?

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 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:

  • The individual has refused voluntary examination.
  • The individual is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary and without care or treatment, is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or her well-being.
  • There is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.

Are there other criteria to know if a Baker Act is appropriate?

Yes, there is additional criterion for a voluntary and involuntary Florida Baker Act not included here.  For 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.

What is an Ex Parte Petition 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.

What is the procedure for filing the Petition and Affidavit Seeking Ex Parte Order Requiring Involuntary Examination?

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.

What happens after I file the Petition and Affidavit?

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.

When will the order be served on the person?

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.

How long will the order hold the person in a facility?

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.

Who can I call for more information about the Florida Baker Act?

Florida Residents can call the Clerk's Probate Division at 863.763.9181

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, you should contact the Clerk of Court in that State.

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