What is the Florida Baker Act?
The Florida Baker Act is actually the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971. The Florida Baker Act allows for involuntary examination or what some know it as, involuntary commitment. The Florida Baker Act can be initiated by judges, law enforcement, physicians or mental health professionals. In order for an individual to have the Florida Baker Act initiated on them there must be proof that the person has a mental illness or is a danger to themselves, a danger to others or is self-neglectful.
The Florida Baker Act was name after Maxine Baker, who was a State representative from Miami who sponsored the Act, while serving as chairperson of the House Committee on Mental Health. The Florida Baker should only be used in situation where a person has a mental illness and meets the criteria for voluntary and involuntary admission.
What are the criteria for a voluntary admission under the Florida Baker Act?
The Florida Baker Act actually encourages voluntary admission for people who need psychiatric care. The criteria for a voluntary admission under the Florida Baker Act are that the individual seeking treatment must be 18 years old or older. If the individual is not over 18 then the individual can be admitted but only after having a hearing to verify the voluntariness of the consent. Each person entering a facility, regardless of age, must be asked to give express and informed consent for admission and treatment. If the person is a minor, express and informed consent for admission and treatment must also be requested from the person’s guardian. Once voluntary admission has been admitted they must stay in the facility for 72 hours.
Most Florida Baker acts are involuntary. The criteria for an involuntary admission under the Florida Baker Act are:
- They refused voluntary placement or they are unable to know if placement is necessary
- They are incapable of surviving on their own without the help of others and without treatment is most likely going to suffer from neglect which poses a real threat of harm to their being or someone else
- There is a high change that they will inflict bodily harm on themselves or someone else as seen by their recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening such harm
- All other available less restricting treatment which would give them the opportunity for improvement have been judged inappropriate for them.
If someone is being involuntarily committed under the Florida Baker Act they must go through an initial examination. The examination must include a review of the person’s recent behavior, a review of the document initiating the Florida Baker Act, a brief psychiatric history and a face-to-face examination of the person. The person after being committed under the Florida Baker Act cannot leave the facility they are in until documented approval of a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or physician. A person cannot be held against their will or involuntarily for longer than 72 hours under the Florida Baker Act. The person must be given opportunity to let others know about their whereabouts too.
After 72 hours has passed under the Florida Baker Act an individual must be released unless they have been charged with a crime. IF they haven’t been charged with a crime, The Florida Baker Act states that an individual can choose to remain in treatment voluntarily from that point forward. The law also allows for the petition for a longer involuntary placement that must be filed with the circuit courts within the 72 hour holding period.
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