When it comes to addressing mental health or substance abuse issues in Florida, the two acts that come to mind are the Baker Act and the Marchman Act. Both are designed to help individuals in need of treatment, but they vary in many ways. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between the two and how they impact the process and rights of individuals affected by them.
Understanding the Baker Act
The Baker Act is a Florida law that enables the involuntary examination and intervention of individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others due to their mental health. The act is named after Maxine Baker, a former state representative who played a prominent role in its creation. It was passed in 1971 and has been amended several times since then to improve the quality of care and protections provided to individuals.
Purpose of the Baker Act
The primary purpose of the Baker Act is to ensure that individuals who may be experiencing a mental health crisis receive the appropriate treatment and care they need. The act allows for the temporary detention and assessment of individuals who may be a risk to themselves or others. This is to prevent any potential harm that can be caused due to a person’s mental incapacity, including suicide or violent behavior.
Criteria for Involuntary Examination
The criteria for involuntary examination under the Baker Act include the following:
- The person has a mental illness, including a developmental disability, dementia, or other brain disorders, and as a result, their ability to care for themselves and their psychiatric condition presents a threat to their well-being
- The person’s mental illness poses a substantial risk of physical harm to themselves or others
- The person is refusing voluntary examination after mental health professionals or law enforcement authorities have advised them to seek treatment
It’s crucial to note that anyone can initiate an involuntary examination of an individual under the Baker Act, including healthcare providers, law enforcement officers, judges, and mental health professionals.
Rights of Individuals under the Baker Act
Individuals under the Baker Act have several rights, including:
- The right to have an attorney present during the examination and legal proceedings
- The right to participate in treatment decisions
- The right to refuse treatment, except in emergency situations where it’s necessary to prevent harm to themselves or others
Baker Act patients also have the right to a hearing if they disagree with their involuntary admission. This hearing must occur within five days of the request and would typically be held in front of a judge. The individual may request an attorney to represent them at the hearing, and the judge will decide whether the individual meets the Baker Act criteria for being held involuntarily.
The Baker Act Process
The Baker Act process typically works as follows:
- A person requests a Baker Act examination by contacting a mental health facility or law enforcement
- The mental health facility or law enforcement evaluates the person and sends them for an involuntary assessment if necessary
- The individual undergoes an assessment by a mental health professional to determine if they meet the Baker Act criteria for involuntary admission
- If the criteria are met, the individual is held for a maximum of 72 hours for further assessment and treatment
- If the mental health professionals determine that the individual no longer meets the involuntary admission criteria, they’ll be released from treatment. Otherwise, they may be held for more prolonged periods.
Understanding the Marchman Act
The Marchman Act is a Florida statute that provides for intervention and treatment for individuals struggling with substance abuse or addiction. Enacted in 1993, it aims to ensure that such individuals receive the appropriate care they need to overcome their addiction and get their lives back on track.
Purpose of the Marchman Act
The main purpose of the Marchman Act is to provide for the involuntary assessment and stabilization of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others due to substance abuse, and to ensure their health and safety during the treatment and recovery process.
Criteria for Involuntary Assessment
The criteria for involuntary assessment under the Marchman Act include the following:
- The individual has a substance abuse problem and is unwilling to seek treatment
- The individual’s substance abuse has reached a level where it poses a significant danger to their health or safety, or that of others around them
- The individual is a minor, and their parent, spouse, or legal guardian is looking to get them assessed involuntarily
Rights of Individuals under the Marchman Act
Individuals under the Marchman Act have certain rights, which include:
- The right to be informed of their rights and the conditions under which they can be held
- The right to due process and a hearing if they disagree with their involuntary admission
- The right to be treated with dignity and respect while undergoing treatment
They also have the right to refuse treatment, except in emergency situations where it’s necessary to prevent harm to themselves or others.
The Marchman Act Process
The Marchman Act process tends to work as follows:
- A petition is filed with the court or law enforcement seeking an assessment and stabilization of the individual
- The individual undergoes an assessment to determine if they meet the Marchman Act criteria for involuntary admission
- If the criteria are met, the individual is held for a period of up to five days for stabilization and treatment
- A hearing will be held within a few days, during which the judge will decide whether the individual should be discharged or further held for treatment
- If held, the individual may undergo treatment for up to 60 days to help them overcome substance abuse.
Key Differences between the Baker Act and the Marchman Act
Mental Health vs. Substance Abuse
The primary difference between the two is that the Baker Act is designed to address mental health issues, while the Marchman Act deals exclusively with substance abuse. Mental health issues may include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other conditions affecting mental stability, while substance abuse could include alcohol, drugs, and other toxic substances causing addiction.
Involuntary Examination vs. Involuntary Assessment
Another difference between the two acts is the process of involuntary admission. Under the Baker Act, an individual may be detained for up to 72 hours for an examination, while the Marchman Act permits individuals’ assessment and stabilization for up to five days. The Baker Act grants healthcare professionals, mental health professionals, and law enforcement personnel the power to admit individuals involuntarily, while the Marchman Act only allows individuals to be involuntarily admitted through a court petition or other authorized representatives.
Duration of Treatment
Additionally, the duration of treatment is different with the two acts. The Baker Act allows individuals to be held for up to 72 hours for assessment, with a maximum of 30 days for treatment. In contrast, the Marchman Act permits a maximum of 60 days of involuntary treatment, which is shorter than the Baker Act’s duration.
Legal Procedures and Protections
Finally, the legal procedures involved in the two acts differ significantly. With the Baker Act, individuals have the right to a hearing within five days to determine the legality of their detention, while the Marchman Act requires a hearing within a few days. Both acts provide individuals with the right to due process and legal representation, like hiring attorneys or having public defenders assigned to the accused.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center in South Florida
At Compassion Behavioral Health, we help individuals in their journey to recovery and wellness. It’s crucial for individuals and their families to understand their rights and the procedures involved, should they ever need to seek involuntary examination or assessment. Both laws are designed to ensure the welfare and safety of individuals affected by mental health or substance abuse incidents while providing for their holistic treatment. Our treatment center in Hollywood, FL offers dual diagnosis, evidence-based mental health and addiction treatment. If you or a loved one is seeking help, contact us today by calling (844) 612-0444.