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Baker Act Lawyer in South Florida

Defend Your Baker Act Rights

family embracing each other before hiring a baker act attorney

If you are facing involuntary psychiatric admission to a facility, you have the right to a Baker Act lawyer in South Florida. Being Baker Acted is a frightening time, and many individuals are not aware of the patient’s bill of rights put in place by the legislation. Additionally, many are scared of enacting these rights. The team at Weinstein Legal specializes in defending those facing commitment under Florida’s Baker Act statute, and we are here to let you know that you do have rights. We will help you exercise these rights with the best representation possible.

Should you face being taken to a hospital or facility under the Baker Act statute, know that there are many rights the patient has in the state of Florida. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. You have the right to hire an attorney. If you are committed to a facility, you have the right to communicate with your family, your legal team, and anyone else you wish if you are an adult. You may send and receive mail, and more.

Do not let any person, organization, or entity deny you these rights. Hire a Baker Act lawyer immediately to protect yourself from being mistreated by the legal system. Our Baker Act attorneys will provide a complete evaluation of your case.

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What Is the Baker Act in Florida?

Many individuals have never heard of the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 but may have heard of someone being arrested or taken to a hospital under Florida’s Baker Act. If you or someone else is taken under the Baker Act, it will be a very unsettling experience. The first thing that you should do is contact a lawyer with experience in these Baker Act proceedings and situations. No one can deny you this right.

The Baker Act is a statute, in other words, it is a law in the State of Florida legislation that is specific to the state of Florida, that allows for an individual to be voluntarily or involuntarily taken to a receiving facility (or hospital) to be treated for psychiatric issues. When someone is taken into custody under the Baker Act, they do not necessarily have to consent to being taken. The statute does not require the consent of the individual if they are deemed to meet these criteria by licensed mental health professionals or a court proceeding.

An individual who has been deemed to meet the criteria to be Baker Acted must be admitted to a Florida Department of Children and Family Services approved facility. The facility must already be on the list approved by the state, and an individual cannot be held anywhere else. If you are being held on an involuntary psychiatric admission, ask if the facility is designated. If not, they do not have the right to keep you.

Baker Act Criteria

To be Baker Acted, an individual must meet precise criteria. In other words, not just anyone can be admitted for involuntary psychiatric evaluation. The requirements are laid out by the law very specifically, which is why it is crucial to hire a Baker Act lawyer to represent you. Often, individuals are committed without meeting proper criteria, which explicitly violates their rights.

  • The individual must be diagnosed with or believed to have a mental illness
  • They must be either an immediate threat to themselves or to others
  • They are unable to determine whether or not they need psychiatric care
  • They must refuse voluntary evaluation or admission

If these points of criteria are not met, a person may not be involuntarily held for a Baker Act. The most crucial factor of all is the possibility of causing either self-harm or harm to others. If a person is not deemed to be a danger to anyone, they may not be committed. Additionally, if other individuals are able and willing to prevent the threat of harm, such as family members or friends, an individual does not meet the criteria to be Baker Acted and cannot be committed.

As some of these criteria may be subjective, you must hire a Baker Act lawyer. A Baker Act lawyer can put together substantial evidence proving that you do not meet such criteria. As those who are facing Baker Acts are often emotional, it is best to have an attorney represent you. Furthermore, this shows evidence of sound mind and clear decision making, which will significantly help your case.

What Happens During a Baker Act?

A person may be Baker Acted if they are believed to have a mental illness and are determined to be a potential and imminent threat to either themselves or others. After they are admitted to a designated facility within the state of Florida, they are then monitored by psychiatric professionals until deemed to be medically stable. There are specific Baker Act laws in Florida that detail the treatment a patient must receive, as well as the Baker Act rights of the patient.

After the initial stabilization period, an individual may be held for monitoring and evaluation for another 72 hours. As the stabilization period is also subjective, and up to the discretion of the treating physician, there is no set time frame in which an individual must be released. For this reason, you must have a Baker Act lawyer represent you. You have the right to request an attorney at any time, and no one is allowed to refuse you that right.

Throughout the course of psychiatric evaluation, medical professionals must decide on where an individual will be discharged to once deemed medically stable. A person may either be released home, to an involuntary inpatient treatment center, or to an involuntary outpatient treatment center.

Inpatient treatment centers are a form of long-term care. If you believe that you are Baker Acted without meeting the mandatory criteria, an attorney will help fight this determination. If you are petitioned to appear in court regarding a mandate for inpatient psychiatric treatment, you must be appointed a lawyer.

Being court-mandated to an inpatient treatment center can cause serious disruption to your life. It may cause you to be unable to work, care for your children, and maintain your daily responsibilities. It is a serious event, and you may have to report such treatment in the future if you work in specific professional fields. If you are facing this option, ask for a Baker Act lawyer right away. Do not let a Baker Act permanently affect your life.

How Can a Person Be Baker Acted?

An individual may be Baker Acted in a variety of ways. First, a family member or friend may call the police for assistance during a time of emotional crisis. When this happens, law enforcement may take a person to a designated facility where they will be evaluated to determine whether or not they meet Baker Act criteria. If the person does not meet the criteria, they will be released.

Second, a court can issue an order for a Baker Act based on the testimony of family, friends, or those close to an individual. If you find out that you will be brought to court for the determination of a Baker Act, contact a Baker Act lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your defense case. Even if a court finds that you should be Baker Acted, you still must be evaluated by a medical professional before admission.

Third, if you are currently under the care of a mental health professional or social worker and they fear that you are a danger to yourself or others, they may file a petition for a Baker Act. The request must state that the individual has exhibited behavior that meets all criteria within the past 48 hours. In other words, you may not be Baker Acted for actions of the past.

What Is Expressed and Informed Consent?

The Baker Act legislation clearly defines expressed and informed consent. The law states that individuals under the age of 18 may not make decisions regarding their mental health treatment, but a parent or guardian has the power to do so. If your child is being Baker Acted and you believe they do not meet the proper criteria, contact a Baker Act lawyer right away.

Expressed and informed consent means that an individual is competent and in the correct mental state to agree to treatment or psychiatric admission. If expressed and informed consent is given by a patient, they are not involuntarily held for monitoring. It means that the person can make informed decisions on their mental health treatment. If this is the case, then a patient has the right to decide in which treatment they do and do not participate. The determination of whether or not they are competent is made by a treating physician.

If an individual is not deemed to meet the criteria to make expressed and informed consent, then they will not have the opportunity to contribute to the development of their mental health treatment plan. If the person is a minor, they are automatically disqualified from this ability.

It must be determined within 24 hours of admission to a facility whether or not an individual is competent to provide expressed and informed consent to treatment. If they are deemed competent to make such decisions, they are no longer considered Baker Acted and must be switched to voluntary status.

Why You Should Hire a Baker Act Lawyer

As the Baker Act laws in Florida can be complicated and challenging to decipher, and the fact that there are many Baker Act rights of the patient that individuals are unaware of, it is essential to hire a criminal defense attorney. You may do so from a Baker Act receiving facility if you have already been admitted, or you may do so before you have been committed. There is never a point in the process when you may not obtain representation.

It is possible to build a case in your defense, proving that you are competent, able to give expressed, and informed consent and that you cannot be held against your will. Contact Weinstein Legal and hire a Baker Act attorney in West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale as quickly as possible.

CONTACT A BAKER ACT LAWYER