Thoele Drach is the preeminent Baker Act defense law firm in Florida. Having carved a niche in this area of the law, our attorneys are sought after lecturers and litigators who are unafraid of tackling billion-dollar companies detaining individuals for the purpose of committing insurance fraud. If you or a loved one are facing the horror of an involuntary psychiatric examination (“Baker Acted”), and don’t meet the criteria under Florida Statute § 394.463, freedom and rights are at risk. We aggressively enforce our clients’ rights under Florida Statute § 394.459.
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Why You Should Choose Our Baker Act Lawyer Team
There are many Baker Act Law firms out there, here’s why we’re your best choice.
Wrongful Baker Act
When someone you love is unlawfully Baker Acted, we move fast. Because we have an aircraft to fly to clients throughout Florida, we are able to handle cases when most attorneys won’t answer their phone. We’re aggressive and our reputation with hospitals and Baker Act receiving facilities was hard-earned. If you see another attorney advertising their services for Baker Act defense, they have probably attended our continuing legal education courses.
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Have you or someone you know recently been Baker Acted?
Our Baker Act Attorneys, Amanda Thoele & Justin Drach, are ready to help. We specialize in helping clients with issues associated with the Baker Act, including related legislation like the Marchman Act.
Call us now if you or a loved one has been sent to a facility by a law enforcement officer, court, or mental health professional.
What is the Florida Baker Act?
The Florida Baker Act, also known as the Florida Mental Health Act, is a comprehensive mental health law passed in 1971. It allows for involuntary examination (what some call emergency or involuntary commitment) and provides for the delivery of needed mental health services to individuals who are unable to volunteer or consent due to mental illness.
The Baker Act also enables family members, caregivers, and guardians to request an involuntary examination on behalf of a person with mental illness if that person appears to meet certain criteria.
Baker Act Criteria
Under the Baker Act, individuals may be detained involuntarily for up to 72 hours in a treatment facility if they meet either one of two sets of criteria:
- They have refused voluntary admission into a treatment facility, and there is reason to believe that without care or treatment the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself/herself and that this neglect will result in harm to his/her well-being.
- There is reason to believe that the individual has a mental illness and because of it:
- he/she has refused voluntary admission into a treatment facility; and
- as a result of his/her mental illness, his/her judgment is so impaired that they are incapable of appreciating their need for such treatment; and
- without care or treatment, the person is likely to cause serious bodily harm to themselves or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.
Your Rights Under the Baker Act
An involuntary examination period can last no longer than 72-hours. If the involuntary examination period comes to an end over a weekend or holiday, this may extend the 72-hour period a facility can hold a patient.
The Baker Act provides certain rights to individuals who are admitted into a mental health facility under this law. These include the right to:
- Receive appropriate and adequate treatment from qualified professionals
- Object to any unnecessary or unwanted medications, treatments, or procedures
- Refuse to participate in experimental research without informed consent
- Receive information about the purpose of the hospitalization
- Have family members notified of admission and other important events
- Request release from involuntary commitment prior to court hearing
- Participate in community services that may be available after leaving the facility, such as transportation assistance, vocational training, housing assistance, etc.
You can watch this short YouTube video for an explanation of a patient’s rights under the Baker Act.
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Frequently Asked Questions for a Baker Act Lawyer
There are many Baker Act Law firms out there, here’s why we’re your best choice.
Also known as the Florida Mental Health Act, the Baker Act exists to provide emergency mental health services in Florida. It allows for the involuntary examination and treatment of individuals who may be suffering from a mental illness or substance abuse issue.
The Baker Act in Florida allows for an involuntary examination to be conducted if the person meets certain criteria. The criteria generally involve a threat of harm to themselves or others or showing signs of mental illness which requires them to be evaluated for their safety and well-being.
Yes, you can refuse a Baker Act in Florida as long as the criteria for an involuntary examination are not met.
No, not legally at least. The maximum length of time that someone can be involuntarily examined or treated under the Baker Act is 72 hours. Before this period has expired, one of the following actions must be taken:
- The patient shall be released, unless he or she is charged with a crime, in which case the patient shall be returned to the custody of a law enforcement officer;
- The patient shall be released, subject to subparagraph 1., for voluntary outpatient treatment;
- The patient, unless he or she is charged with a crime, shall be asked to give express and informed consent to placement as a voluntary patient and, if such consent is given, the patient shall be admitted as a voluntary patient; or
- A petition for involuntary services shall be filed in the circuit court if inpatient treatment is deemed necessary or with the criminal county court, as defined in s. 394.4655(1), as applicable. When inpatient treatment is deemed necessary, the least restrictive treatment consistent with the optimum improvement of the patient’s condition shall be made available. When a petition is to be filed for involuntary outpatient placement, it shall be filed by one of the petitioners specified in s. 394.4655(4)(a). A petition for involuntary inpatient placement shall be filed by the facility administrator. If a patient’s 72-hour examination period ends on a weekend or holiday, and the receiving facility:
a. Intends to file a petition for involuntary services, such patient may be held at a receiving facility through the next working day thereafter and such petition for involuntary services must be filed no later than such date. If the receiving facility fails to file a petition for involuntary services at the close of the next working day, the patient shall be released from the receiving facility following approval pursuant to paragraph (f).
b. Does not intend to file a petition for involuntary services, a receiving facility may postpone release of a patient until the next working day thereafter only if a qualified professional documents that adequate discharge planning and procedures in accordance with s. 394.468, and approval pursuant to paragraph (f), are not possible until the next working day.
Anyone can initiate a Baker Act in Florida as long as they meet certain criteria, including law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, social workers, or any other professional who is authorized to do so.
A Baker Act can be lifted by either a court or by the mental health professionals who initiated the examination. The court will make its decision based on the evidence presented, while the mental health professional may lift it if they believe that the person is no longer in need of care and treatment.
The maximum length of a Baker Act involuntary examination in Florida is 72 hours, although this can be extended in certain circumstances.
Express and informed consent is a process that occurs when an individual is given clear information about a particular activity or treatment, and then voluntarily agrees to participate. The goal of this process is to make sure individuals are aware of potential risks and benefits associated with the activity or treatment before they agree to participate. When providing express and informed consent, the individual should be provided with all relevant information in an understandable manner so that they can make an informed decision.
Fla. Sta. § 394.459 contains the rights of patients who are being held pursuant to the Baker Act.
Translated from Latin it means “show me the body.” Also known as the “Great Writ”, habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument to safeguard individual freedom against arbitrary executive power. Fla. Sta. § 394.459(8) provides the right to habeas corpus to a Baker Act patient to challenge the lawfulness of their detainment, and to correct abuses.
Unfortunately, if you have good insurance, the amount of time that a Baker Act receiving facility attempts to keep you will be longer than someone without insurance.