The Baker Act in Florida permits doctors, mental health experts, courts, and law enforcement to commit a person to a mental health treatment center for up to 72 hours if they exhibit specific aggressive or suicidal indicators of mental illness.
The act is named after Dr. John Randolph Baker, who first proposed it during the Cuban Missile Crisis when no effective psychiatric treatments were available. Since its implementation in 1964, the Baker Act has been used more than 10,000 times to commit people who were deemed a danger to themselves or others.
How does it work? If you are considered mentally ill based on an assessment by a doctor or psychologist and are believed to be a danger to yourself or others, you can be committed under the Baker Act. You will then undergo a clinical evaluation to determine whether you need to be held in custody for treatment. If so, you will be taken to a hospital or mental health facility where you will stay until your condition improves or you go through the commitment process again.
Who can be committed under the Baker Act in Florida? People can be committed if they suffer from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and pose a risk to themselves or others. Persons can also be committed if they experience a serious relapse of their symptoms or fail to respond to other interventions.
This law, formally known as the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, provides for forced mental health evaluations for persons who are either: a risk to themselves or others (including self-neglect); or a danger to themselves or others (including self-neglect). While a person might commence a Baker Act on their own, most Baker Acts are begun by doctors, courts, or police officers. The evaluation must be conducted by a psychiatrist or psychologist who will determine if the patient needs further treatment and/or confinement.
The act was named after its principal author, State Senator Frank B. Baker. It has been modified several times since its adoption but remains in effect today.
In Florida, there is no statute of limitations on filing charges under the Baker Act. If you believe that someone you know is mentally ill and should be evaluated under this law, contact an attorney immediately.
Baker Act cases can be difficult to win because there is no requirement that patients be given legal counsel during these assessments. Patients' rights are also violated by not being allowed to see their medical records unless they enter into a confidentiality agreement with the hospital.
However, patients do have a few protections under the law. For example, they cannot be held against their will for longer than necessary to evaluate them, and doctors must follow certain guidelines when deciding how long to keep them locked up.
Additionally, the law limits the number of evaluations that can be done within a six-month period.
The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 (Florida Statute 47891 [2009 rev.]), sometimes known as the "Baker Act," permits for an individual's involuntary hospitalization and assessment. Hospitalizations can be for treatment or observation. Individuals may be hospitalized for up to 72 hours without being charged with a crime. If necessary, individuals can be held longer than that time period.
The act is named after its principal author, Florida State Senator Roy Baker. It was passed into law by his colleagues on May 5, 1971.
Since its passage, the Baker Act has been modified several times. The most recent modification was made in 2009 when the legislature passed SF 1038 which allows for the temporary involuntary mental health examination of an adult who appears to be suffering from a mental illness or developmental disability.
Temporary examinations are limited to no more than 72 hours and must include an attempt to provide appropriate treatment. If it is determined that continued examination is necessary, another request can be made. A person can only be examined under this new law three times in any 12-month period.
Individuals have the right to refuse medical treatment. If an individual refuses treatment, they cannot be forced to receive it against their will.
The Baker Act Criteria in Florida The individual is psychologically unwell (or is believed to be mentally ill). The individual denies or does not comprehend why a voluntary mental health examination is required. The individual poses a danger to themselves or others, or the individual is incapable of caring for themselves.
The individual should be taken into custody for their own safety and that of others.
Anyone can report they believe someone has become mentally ill and needs help. If you are concerned about a friend or family member, call your local mental health authority at once. If there is no answer, or if all lines are busy, then go to the police department and ask to speak with an officer. Tell the officer what's going on and let him/her decide how to proceed.
Mental illness does not discriminate- it can affect anyone, of any age, gender, religion, ethnicity or social standing. It doesn't have a face or name and cannot be seen or heard. But if you are worried about a loved one, get them help quickly!
Understanding the Baker Act in Florida The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly known as the Florida Baker Act, is a Florida legislation located in Chapter 394 that permits for forced evaluation of an individual by involuntary or emergency commitment. It was passed in response to a rash of violence that had occurred among people with mental illness.
How does the law work? Under the Baker Act, someone can be taken into custody by police and held against their will for assessment by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist must determine whether there is cause to believe the person is mentally ill and should be committed. If so, the person is given appropriate treatment until such time as they are no longer a danger to themselves or others.
Who can be committed? The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 allows for the involuntary hospitalization of persons who are mentally ill and pose a danger to themselves or others. This includes violent patients who have been released from incarceration with a commitment order; those who have not been incarcerated but are considered dangerous because of a mental condition; and patients who lack the capacity to make decisions about their care because of dementia or other cognitive impairment.
How is the decision made? To be committed under the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, a physician must certify that you are mentally ill and present a threat to yourself or others.