Is a Baker Act an involuntary examination for mental illness?

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Since the 1970s, there has been a noticeable effort to deinstitutionalize patients from large mental institutions and return them to their communities. Numerous modern psychiatric drugs have made it feasible for patients to avoid or lessen the need for long-term institutionalization.

The act of committing someone against their will is referred to as “Baker Acted” across the nation, despite it being only a Florida regulation. But practically every State has laws that permit some kind of involuntary commitment.

Here are things you need to know about the Baker Act.

What do the Baker Act’s definitions of an involuntary examination and an involuntary inpatient placement mean?

An involuntary examination in Florida is a hospitalization and assessment of an individual who is believed to suffer from a mental condition and is prone to hurt themselves or others.

Involuntary inpatient placement is the treatment and treatment of a person with a mental illness, who qualifies for inpatient care even though they pose a risk to their health or that of others, do not qualify for less restrictive involvement, and are reluctant to be conceded voluntarily. The hospital treatment helps determine if they are qualified for involuntary services, such as involuntary inpatient placement.

Defenses under the Baker Act

An involuntary examination in Florida is a hospitalization and evaluation of a person who is thought to suffer from a mental condition and is, therefore, prone to hurt themselves or others. The purpose of hospitalization is to ascertain whether the patient qualifies for involuntary care, such as inpatient placement.

All individuals with severe mental diseases in the State of are protected by the Baker Act in Florida. They consist of:

  1. Individuals with both free and involuntary status
  2. Every age group, including young people and the elderly.
  3. Competent individuals, as well as those adjudged to be unable or inept
  4. Those in need of care, in addition to those who can pay for it
  5. Patients receiving inpatient care in a hospital and those receiving outpatient as an outpatient.

 To sum it up, the standards that apply to the Baker Act are:

Admissions under the Baker Act may be either voluntary or involuntary.

To be involuntarily committed for a test under the Baker Act, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  1. If someone has a mental disorder, there is “reason to think” that they do, along with the mental illness:
  2. Even after a “conscientious” explanation and revelation of the aim of the examination, the subject has declined to be examined.
  3. If the person’s mental disorder prevents them from being able to recognize the need for an examination, and
  4. Lack of sufficient care will result in a “real and present” threat of significant neglect that cannot be prevented by family members’ or friends’ involvement.

Stop Long-Term Involuntary Holding

The Florida legislature may begin making choices on your loved one’s behalf if the treatment center where they are being kept approaches the court before your chance to intervene and file a petition. When this happens, your loved one may be kept in an institution for six months while they undergo required therapy from a clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse, or mental health counselor.

To Baker Act someone:

A subject can be Baker Acted in one of three ways: by a judicial tribunal, a security force, or specific medical practitioners.

An appellate court

Twenty judicial circuits make up Florida’s judicial system (listed below).

The court in which the person you desire to Baker Act is residing must receive a Petitioner and Declaration Seeking Ex Parte Order Ordering Involuntary Examination.

Once you’ve located your court area, you can call or go to the website to get detailed information on how to request and file forms. It may be necessary for some circumstances to provide more paperwork. Therefore doing so will save you time. There is no charge to submit the document (s).

The judge may review an ex parte order after it has been filed with the court. It is established on the testimony under oath on your application and any other supporting documentation that may be necessary.

A police officer will carry out the order if the federal circuit approves it. It can be carried out at any time, anytime, or day, and the officer is allowed to “obtain access to take custody of the individual” by using as much justifiable physical force as is required.

The officer is then required to provide a written report titled “Transportation to a Receiving Institution” that details the events leading up to the subject being taken into custody.

After that, the person is sent to a specified receiving facility for inspection.

 A member of law enforcement

Anyone who satisfies the Baker Act requirements may be detained by a law enforcement official and sent to the closest receiving facility.

When an event occurs in public, a companion, close relative, or bystander may call emergency services after observing conduct that suggests the individual could be mentally ill and in danger.

Once more, the officer submits a written report describing the circumstances behind the arrest. This report eventually gets added to the clinical file.

Notable Professionals

The person can be taken into custody and transported to a receiving facility with the help of a law enforcement officer once a certified professional files a certificate permitting them to do so.

The experts who are capable of doing this include:

  1. Physicians
  2. Clinicians in psychology
  3. Psychiatrists
  4. Psychologists and counselors
  5. Therapists for marriage and families
  6. Mental health nurses
  7. Clinicians in social work

The certification indicates that they evaluated a person they believe satisfies the Baker Act requirements within the previous 48 hours and includes a narrative of the observations that led them to this determination. Once more, a police officer is sent to arrest the individual and take them to the closest receiving facility. The study and certificate are both added to the clinical file.

How long can a Baker Act patient be institutionalized?

As previously mentioned, the initial involuntary treatment phase may last up to six months. But, it may go on.

A facility manager must submit a new application for ongoing involuntary placement before the start of the initial time frame to do this. The petition must be submitted with a statement from the treating physician or licensed psychologist, a description of the prior medical care, and a unique treatment plan. An administrative law court judge will preside over the hearing for ongoing involuntary treatment.


Since the Act’s enactment, the public has been more accepting of people’s privileges of living freely and without being similarly restricted in their freedom. To take these developments into account and to safeguard the rights of people with mental illnesses, the Baker Act has been regularly updated.




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