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What is “Baker Act Florida” or Baker Acted Meaning? How To Baker Act in Florida?

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When a person is Baker Acted in Florida they are taken to a mental health hospital that is also a Baker Act receiving facility. A mental evaluation must be performed within 72 hours. Continue to read more about the Baker Act process.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: February 6, 2023

What is the Baker Act’s Meaning?

The Baker Act authorizes the temporary detention and evaluation of people showing evidence of mental illness who are at risk of hurting themselves or others. This includes danger from self-neglect as well as physical harm.

Under Florida law, an individual who poses a potential threat to themselves or others due to mental illness can be taken into custody as outlined by the Baker Act. This is important for individuals with addiction and mental health issues so that they can get the care they need in a safe environment.

Florida Baker Act Origins

The Maxine Baker Act of 1971 was established to provide better access to mental health services, such as early intervention, preventative care, and treatment, for those suffering from mental illness, as well as advocating for community-based mental health support services. The Baker Act also guarantees fairness and respect to those who are in need of mental health care.

The Florida Baker Act is a law that seeks to protect individuals from involuntary commitment. The law allows doctors, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and judges to commit a person to a mental health treatment facility for up to 72 hours without the consent of the person being committed if the person is deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. This is particularly important for addressing mental health issues as early and safely as possible.

The purpose of the Act is not to punish or shame individuals or to criminalize mental illness. It is intended to ensure that everyone has access to timely and appropriate mental health care.

Florida Baker Act Meaning, Laws & Criteria

Florida’s Baker Act law is a tool to provide
individuals with emergency services and temporary
detention for up to 72 hours for mental health
examination pursuant to Florida Statute Chapter 394.
The Baker Act does not guarantee long term
mental health placement for individuals.

To be eligible for an involuntary mental health examination
under the Baker Act, an individual must meet
the following criteria:

  1. There is reason to believe that he or she is
    mentally ill and because of his or her mental
    illness, the person has refused voluntary
    examination.
  2. The person is unable to determine for himself or
    herself whether the examination is necessary and
    without care or treatment, the person is likely to
    suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or
    herself and such refusal could pose a threat of
    harm to his or her well-being.
  3. There is a substantial likelihood that without care
    or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily
    harm to himself, herself or others in the near future
    as evidenced by recent behavior.

Baker Act Meaning For Families

The Baker Act Florida law enables families and loved ones to provide emergency mental health services and temporary detention for people who are impaired because of their mental illness and unable to determine their treatment needs. Why is it called the baker act? The Act was named after Maxine Baker, a former Miami State representative who sponsored the Act in 1972.

People who require the use of the Baker Act law in Florida have often lost the power of self-control and are likely to inflict harm to themselves or others. The Baker Act must be used only when the person has a mental illness and meets all the remaining voluntary or involuntary admission criteria.  It does not substitute for any other law permitting medical or substance abuse care to persons who cannot request such care.

Baker Acted Meaning

Baker acted meaning refers to when a person is accepted into a Baker Act treatment program for their own safety. The patient is referred to as Baker acted.

What is the Purpose Baker Act in Florida?

It can be terrifying to watch a loved one have a severe mental illness, especially when they refuse treatment or do not understand the seriousness of their condition. However, Florida’s Baker Act provides a process to get individuals the treatment they need, even when it is against their wishes.

The Florida Mental Health Act, commonly known as the Baker Act, enables loved ones or others to request emergency mental health services for those who cannot or will not ask for help for themselves. Emergency services may include voluntary admission to a hospital or other receiving facility or involuntary admission if the person cannot understand the severity of their condition.

What is the Baker Act? Legislators enacted the social work and the Baker Act to intercede on behalf of a person with a mental illness who may cause harm to themselves or another but is not willing to seek treatment. Maxine Baker, a former Florida state representative, sponsored the Act, which was passed in 1971.

Most states have enacted legislation similar to the Baker Act customs and Florida Baker Act law enforcement, but each state has its name for its specific legislation.

Behaviors That Indicate A Mental Health Crisis

In general, behaviors that can be considered indications of a mental emergency include the following: 

  • Hallucinations: Hearing voices or seeing things that are not there, especially when the hallucinations suggest self-harm or harm to others, are grounds for Baker Acting. 
  • Suicidal Thoughts: A preoccupation with or threats of suicide can warrant a Baker Act in Florida or baker acted Florida situation. This is especially true when a person has access to weapons or has a history of self-harm. 
  • Not Able to Care for Themself: Declining to take care of basic needs, including sleep, eating, personal cleanliness, medications, or keeping up with their living space, would indicate a mental health evaluation may be necessary. 
  • Depression and Hopelessness: Mood disorders, such as depression, that contribute to hopelessness or an inability to function daily indicate treatment may be necessary. What does it mean to Baker Act someone? A mental evaluation must be performed within 72 hours. After 72 hours, the person will be released if deemed mentally stable.
  • Substance Use: While more appropriate for a Marchman Act, excessive substance abuse that hinders a person would be grounds for intervention.

What is it like to be Baker Acted?

Being Baker Acted can be a frightening experience for those going through it, as well as for friends and family. It is important to remember that the purpose of the Baker Act is to get someone help, and most importantly, keep them safe. The process requires an evaluation by a mental health expert, who will help decide if the person needs further treatment or care at a mental health facility.

After the evaluation is done, the individual may be required to stay in a mental health facility for a few days or even longer, depending on their needs. During this time, they will receive evaluation and care from qualified professionals who will create a plan to ensure their individual safety and well-being. After they are released from the mental health facility, they may be required to follow up with outpatient care, counseling, and other supportive services to ensure that they stay safe and healthy.

When someone is Baker Acted that individual is taken into custody and delivered to a mental health institution. With the exception, if that individual is already in a receiving facility. For example, if a hospital serves a receiving facility and the person goes to the ER for care, whether related or unrelated to mental illness. The attending physician may determine that the person meets the criteria for the Baker Act and hold the person at the facility.

A Baker Acted individual is first collected up by law enforcement, and then transported to a mental health facility including:

  1. Hospital Emergency Room – Where law enforcement or other officials decide that the person is undergoing a medical emergency (as outlined in the Baker Act law), the individual may be delivered to a hospital emergency room. The initial hospital may or may not be a receiving facility for the Baker Act. However, within 72 hours, a receiving facility must examine the individual, unless the individual is recorded to have an emergency medical condition by an attending physician.
  2. Twelve hours after documentation that the individual’s condition is stabilized, this individual is to be examined by a physician or clinical psychologist at the hospital or at a designated receiving facility, and either be released or transferred to voluntary status. The Baker Acted individual can also be transferred to a receiving facility where the medical treatment required is available. The transfer to a Baker Act receiving facility must be accomplished within 12 hours of stabilization of a worrisome medical condition.
  3. To be processed by law enforcement – Where the individual is arrested for a felony, while they may meet the Baker Act criteria for an involuntary examination, the person must be processed first before being transported to a receiving facility.
  4. To a receiving facility – With exception of a felony arrest or medical emergency, the Baker Acted individual will be brought directly to the nearest receiving facility. This will include individuals in custody for minor criminal matters.

All receiving facilities must accept the Baker Acted individual fetched to them by law enforcement officials. There are presently 134 receiving facilities in the state of Florida. Odds are, there’s one near you.

Within 72 hours, a physician or clinical psychologist will conduct an examination. The goal is to learn whether the person meets the criteria for release.

During the Baker Act examination, the professional will:

  • Review recent behavioral observations, the Baker Act initiation and related documentation requiring the examination, and its transportation report.
  • Take a brief psychiatric history
  • Perform a face-to-face exam

All of the above steps are to be completed within the three-day Baker Act assessment period. What happens next all depends on the results of the Baker Act examination.

The Baker Act order is an existing law that temporarily institutionalizes individuals who meet specific mental illness criteria.  Baker acted meaning is simply the application of this law to safeguard a person undergoing an intense mental health crisis.
The Baker Act order is an existing law that temporarily institutionalizes individuals who meet specific mental illness criteria.  Baker acted meaning is simply the application of this law to safeguard a person undergoing an intense mental health crisis.

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How to Baker Act Someone?

There are three methods an individual may be Baker Acted. These are via q circuit court, a law enforcement officer, and specific health specialists.

1. Via A Circuit Court in Florida

Florida’s Baker Act judicial system is divided into 20 judicial circuits (see below). A Baker Act Petition and Affidavit Seeking Ex Parte Order Requiring Involuntary Examination must be filed in the court where the individual to be Baker Acted is residing.

Once you find your court below, you can either visit the website or call for specific instructions on requesting and filing forms. In some cases, additional documentation will be needed and this will prevent you from wasting time. There is no fee for filing the form(s). Also, in some cases, you may need to file with the county clerk of court, not the district.

  • 1st Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa & Walton Counties
  • 2nd Circuit– Baker Acted filing in Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty & Wakulla Counties
  • 3rd Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee & Taylor Counties
  • 4th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Clay, Duval & Nassau Counties
  • 5th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion & Sumter Counties
  • 6th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Pasco & Pinellas Counties
  • 7th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in St. Johns, Volusia, Flagler & Putnam Counties
  • 8th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy & Union Counties
  • 9th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Orange & Osceola Counties
  • 10th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Hardee, Highlands & Polk Counties
  • 11th Circuit  – Baker Acted filing in Dade County
  • 12th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in DeSoto, Manatee & Sarasota Counties
  • 13th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Hillsborough County
  • 14th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf Holmes, Jackson & Washington Counties
  • 15th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Palm Beach County
  • 16th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Monroe County
  • 17th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Broward County
  • 18th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Brevard & Seminole Counties
  • 19th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee & St. Lucie Counties
  • 20th Circuit – Baker Acted filing in Charlotte, Collier, Glades,  Hendry & Lee Counties

Once the Baker Act petition is filed with the court, a justice may consider an ex parte Baker Act order. The petition Baker Act request must be founded via the sworn affidavit in the filing documents.

If the circuit court enters a Baker Act order, a law enforcement officer can then Baker Act someone. Upon court approval, the Baker Act enforcement may begin any time on any day. The court authorizes police officers to apply reasonable physical force as needed to “gain entry to take custody of the person.”

Thereafter, the officer must provide a documented report called “Transportation to a Receiving Facility,” that explains the events unfolding while Baker Acting and bringing the person into custody.

The individual is then transported to a designated receiving facility for examination.

2. A Law Enforcement Police Officer

A law enforcement police officer has the power to Baker-Act someone that meets the Baker Act criteria into custody and transport them to the closest Baker Act receiving facility.

Typically, the Baker Act process begins with a phone call from a friend, family member, or bystander (if there is an incident transpiring in public) after seeing conduct showing the individual may be mentally unwell and is in danger.

The police officer will file a Baker-Act report describing the circumstances concerning the individual Baker Acted and taken into custody. Eventually, this statement will be part of the Baker Acted person’s clinical record.

3. Specific Healthcare Professionals

A Baker-Act certification may be filed by a qualified professional, allowing law enforcement to Baker Act someone and bring this individual into custody,and transport them to a receiving facility.

The medical professionals who are able to Baker Act someone are:

    • Physicians
    • Clinical Psychologists
    • Psychiatrists
    • Mental Health Counselors
    • Marriage and Family Therapists
    • Psychiatric Nurses
    • Clinical Social Workers

The certificate will note that, within the last 48 hours, these healthcare professionals have personally examined someone who they feel satisfies the Act’s criteria. Their report will include observations used to base their conclusions for treatment. Thereafter, law enforcement is utilized to take the individual into custody so as to transport them to the nearest receiving facility. Both the report and certificate become part of the Baker Acted individual’s clinical record.

It is noteworthy that on May 28, 2008 Florida’s Attorney General documented that physician’s assistants were added to professional with powers under specific circumstances to request someone be backer acted.

Florida Baker Act Law & Statistics

Nearly 2.9 million Florida adults, about 17% of the population, have some form of mental illness. Mental illnesses can be acute or chronic and are diagnosable conditions that affect an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being and often their behavior. These conditions include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and mood or personality disorders.


121%

Florida’s population has increased by about 22% to 21.5 million people, but the number of people being Baker Acted has skyrocketed by 121%.

Source: Florida Department of Children and Families

202,600

From 2019 to 2020, 202,600 people were involuntarily examined for mental illness safety concerns. 

Source: Florida Department of Children and Families

Half Of Florida’s 67 Counties

About half of Florida’s 67 counties have at least one Baker Act receiving facility, and the others do not.

Source: Florida Department of Children and Families


Baker Act Definition &

Baker Act Florida Fact Sheet

Is the Baker Act in all states? Many people have heard a reference to someone being “Baker acted.” Being Baker acted essentially means that a person has exhibited some extreme behavior that insinuates a severe mental illness, and without care or treatment, they may harm themselves or others.


Is the Baker Act only in Florida? Although the Baker Act is a statute only for the state of Florida, the use of “Baker Acting” as a verb has become a slang term for involuntary commitment in other regions of the United States. Some of the states listed below have adopted the Florida Baker Act criteria and policies:

  • Baker Act Georgia – To begin the process, immediately call the Court for a hearing date/time, keeping in mind two people have to have witnessed the behavior within 48 hours. Then these two individuals fill out the petition stating why the person needs to be evaluated.
  • Baker Act Texas – To begin the Involuntary Commitment process in Texas, a Mental Health Warrant must be issued. This warrant serves as a Magistrate’s Order for Emergency Apprehension and Detention. The “Magistrate” is the Judge who will issue the warrant.
  • Baker Act California – California has civil commitment laws that decide when involuntary treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who are too ill to seek care voluntarily.
  • Virginia Baker Act – In Virginia, When the Special Justice orders a commitment, the individual is under a court order to be involuntarily admitted to the hospital and is required to remain in the hospital for a maximum period of 30 days unless discharged sooner by the hospital.
  • Baker Act Kentucky – In 1982, Kentucky passed the Kentucky Mental Health Hospitalization Act to address the sensitive issue of involuntary hospitalization. 
  • Baker Act Ohio – Ohio’s involuntary civil commitment process, or judicial hospitalization, allows the state to hospitalize individuals with a mental illness against their will, provided specific criteria are met.
  • Baker Act Alabama – An involuntary commitment is a procedure whereby a person is involuntarily placed in the custody of the Alabama Department of Mental Health for treatment.
  • Baker Act Illinois – in Illinois, it allows one person to give another person the authority to make healthcare decisions on his or her behalf, should he or she ever become incapacitated or unable to make necessary decisions.
  • Baker Act Michigan – Michigan has Kevin’s law. Kevin’s Law helps provide protection and care for individuals with mental illnesses who may be impaired in their judgment about the need for treatment.
  • Baker Act Tennessee – The Florida Baker Act law is only valid in Florida. But, similar laws for involuntary psychiatric treatment exist in Tennessee. These laws are not addiction-specific but apply to mental health crises.
  • Baker Act Colorado – Like every state, Colorado has civil commitment laws establishing criteria for determining when involuntary treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who cannot seek care voluntarily. Colorado’s laws allow for court-ordered treatment in the community, known as assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).
  • Baker Act in North Carolina – North Carolina law allows an individual to be evaluated and hospitalized against his/her wishes. For this to happen, there must be clear evidence the person is dangerous to self or others. Initiating an involuntary commitment is usually a choice of “last resort.”
  • Baker Act in Pennsylvania – The person must pose a “clear and present danger” to self or others based upon statements and behavior that occurred in the past 30 days.
  • Baker Act Indiana – Like every state, Indiana has civil commitment laws that establish criteria for determining when involuntary treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who cannot seek care voluntarily.
  • Baker Act Maryland – Maryland law allows involuntary admission to a hospital when a person has a mental disorder, needs inpatient care or treatment, and presents a danger to themselves and others.
  • Baker Act South Carolina – If there is a likelihood of serious harm to himself or others, the court shall order in-patient or out-patient treatment at a mental health facility, public or private, designated by the Department of Mental Health and may order outpatient treatment following in-patient treatment.
  • Baker Act Arizona – In Arizona, any responsible individual may apply to the involuntary evaluation of a person who is alleged to be, as a result of a mental disorder, a danger to self or others, persistently or acutely disabled, or gravely disabled and who is unwilling or unable to undergo a voluntary evaluation. 
  • Baker Act Massachusetts – Massachusetts allows for involuntary examination (what some call emergency or involuntary commitment) initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians, mental health professionals, and close friends and relatives.
  • Baker Act Missouri – Missouri laws allow a judge or law enforcement to send someone to an inpatient psychiatric facility for up to 96 hours for evaluation IF there is reason to believe the individual may, as a result of a mental disorder, be at risk of self-harm or harm to others.
  • Baker Act Washington State – It begins with an evaluation by a county-designated mental health professional. The mental health professional can commit a patient to a hospital for a 72-hour review if they are dangerous to themselves or others due to a mental disorder.
  • Baker Act New York – The law in New York allows 72 hours of involuntary observation to see whether someone is, in fact, an imminent danger to himself or others.
  • Baker Act Louisiana – Louisiana is the only state where a medical examiner or coroner is involved in the involuntary commitment of people who are mentally ill.
  • Baker Act NJ – In New Jersey, A facility cannot detain an individual for more than 72 hours without a temporary court order.

9 Interesting Facts and History To Know About The Florida Baker Act

  1. The Florida Mental Health Act,” or “The Baker Act,” is a Florida law that allows authorities, mental health employees, doctors, and judges to involuntarily commit someone to a psychiatric facility to be examined when a person is in danger of harming themselves or others.
  2. The legislature enacted the Florida Mental Health Act in 1971.
  3. The Baker Act was named after Maxine Baker; a former Miami State representative who sponsored The Baker Act in 1972.
  4. The law was created to ensure people had the right to due process before being committed.
  5. The Baker Act only be used in situations where the person has a mental illness and meets all the remaining criteria for voluntary or involuntary admission.
  6. The Baker Act encourages the voluntary admission of persons for psychiatric care, but only when they are able to understand the decision and its consequences and are able to fully exercise their rights for themselves.
  7. When this is not possible due to the severity of the person’s condition, the law requires that the person be extended the due process rights assured for those under involuntary status.
  8. Baker Act does not substitute for any other law that might permit the provision of medical or substance abuse care to persons who lack the capacity to request such care.
  9. Within the 72-hour examination period, one of the following three actions must be taken based on the individual needs of the person:
  • The person must be released unless he or she is charged with a crime, in which case the person must be returned to the custody of a law enforcement officer.
  • The person, unless he or she is charged with a crime, must be asked to give express and informed consent to placement on voluntary status, and if such consent is given, the person must be voluntarily admitted.
  • A petition for involuntary placement must be completed within 72 hours and filed with the circuit court within 72 hours.

Although the Baker Act Florida is a statute for Florida, the use of the term “Baker Acting” has become very prevalent as a slang term in other parts of the United States for involuntary commitment.

Top 8 Baker Acted Definition & Process FAQs

  1. Does Baker Act increase mental health?

    Yes. The law guarantees rights to persons with mental illnesses. Treatment cannot be denied or delayed due to a person’s inability to pay.

  2. Do you have to pay if you get Baker Acted?

    Currently, the state contracts Baker Act costs with both public and private Crisis Stabilization Units to provide emergency mental health treatment. If you’ve been Baker Acted, the need for mental health treatment qualifies you for medical leave, and your employer must approve your request.

    Remember, though, that the FMLA doesn’t require your employer to pay you while you’re on leave. An eligible employee may take FMLA to leave for their serious health condition or to care for a spouse, child, or parent because of a severe health condition. A serious health condition can include a mental health condition. FMLA stands for Family and Medical Leave Act.

  3. Can you visit someone who is Baker Acted?

    Yes, unless having visitors will be harmful to the person being treated. If a facility wants to restrict visitors from a patient, they must file a written notice documenting the refusal of visitation.

  4. How do you Baker Act someone?

    According to Florida law, a petition seeking to commit a person for examination, assessment, or treatment of mental illness must be filed in the county where the person is. It is also necessary for law enforcement to find the person at the time the court order is filed.

  5. What happens after Baker Act?

    Baker Act patients are taken to a mental health hospital. A mental evaluation must be performed within 72 hours. After 72 hours, the person will be released if deemed mentally stable.

  6. Can you refuse Baker Act?

    If your loved one wants to get out of a receiving facility, you must file with the court first. This would be a petition demanding that your loved one be released immediately. You could handle this with the assistance of a Baker Act lawyer.

  7. Who to call to Baker Act someone?

    Parties that can enforce the law include the court and law enforcement, medical professionals, and mental health professionals. If you’re concerned for a friend’s or family member’s safety and feel this law is necessary to evaluate their mental health, you have a few options.

  8. What does it mean to be Baker Acted?

    What is Baker Acted? It means that a person was admitted to a mental health hospital to be mentally assessed.

Baker Act Florida PDF

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Under What Circumstances Is A Person Subject To Florida’s Baker Act?

The Florida statute states that a person may be transported to an approved receiving facility for involuntary examination if they meet all the following criteria:

  • They are mentally or emotionally impaired to the extent they cannot control their actions or understand reality. This does not include substance abuse impairment or developmental disability.
  • They have refused voluntary examination or cannot understand that a review is necessary because of a mental illness.
  • Without treatment, they may suffer personal neglect or may cause harm to themselves or others.
When a person is Baker Acted in Florida they are taken to a mental health hospital that is also a Baker Act receiving facility. A mental evaluation must be performed within 72 hours. Continue to read more about the Baker Act processes.
How to baker act someone in Florida? What happens when you get Baker Acted in Florida? “Baker Acted meaning” is that a person is taken to a mental health hospital pursuant to the Florida Baker Act at a court-ordered treatment facility.

How to Baker Act Someone?

The Baker Act encourages individuals to seek voluntary mental health help. However, if an individual is not open to voluntary treatment for a severe mental health crisis, family members, health professionals, law enforcement, or others can ask the circuit court for an involuntary mental health examination. Below are the ways how to Baker Act someone, including:

Ordered by Court: A loved one or others can petition the Circuit Court to issue an ex parte order, an involuntary examination. If a judge grants the order, a law enforcement officer enforces the ruling by taking the person into custody and transporting them to the nearest receiving facility.

Court Hearing: The court must conduct the involuntary placement hearing within five days. A court-appointed public defender represents the person unless they have other legal representation. The defendant has the right to an independent expert examination the court provides.

The court considers testimony and evidence regarding whether the person is competent to consent to treatment. If found not competent, the court appoints a guardian advocate.

If the court finds the person meets the criteria for involuntary placement, they issue an order remanding the individual to an inpatient mental health facility for up to six months. The court has the option to extend this period.

Ordered by Health Professional: Suppose the person received an examination by a physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker within the preceding 48 hours and was found to meet the criteria for involuntary examination. In that case, a law enforcement officer will transport the individual to the nearest receiving facility.

Examination: If a hospital admits the person because of an emergency medical condition, a psychiatrist and a second mental health professional must examine within 72 hours to determine if a transfer to a receiving facility for medical treatment is appropriate. If the physician determines the person’s medical condition has stabilized or is not an emergency, one of the following must occur:

  • They are transferred to a receiving facility that offers appropriate medical treatment.
  • Suppose the examining doctor finds the person does not meet Baker Act criteria for involuntary admission to a receiving facility. In that case, they must release the person or transfer them to voluntary status.
  • The person is released if the examination occurred at a receiving facility and a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist provides documentation supporting the person’s release.

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What Is Baker Acting? & What Happens After The Involuntary Examination Period?

The involuntary examination period cannot exceed 72 hours for adults and 12 hours for minors. A clinical psychologist or a physician experienced in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders must examine the individual within that time. After completion of the examination, one of the following must happen:

  • The person is released unless charged with a crime.
  • Medical professionals file a petition with the circuit court for involuntary order.
  • The person gives informed consent for voluntary placement in a treatment facility.
  • The person is released for outpatient treatment.

The receiving facility cannot file a petition with the court for involuntary placement unless they have documented clear evidence the person is mentally ill, is in danger of self-neglect, and poses a threat to themselves or others.

There can be severe consequences for people who are Baker Acted. This includes being taken away from their home and family and placed in a psychiatric hospital against their will. People may also lose their jobs, housing, and other essential rights due to being Baker Acted.

It is essential to understand that the Baker Act is meant to be used for emergencies only. When the Baker Act is used too frequently or in situations that are not an emergency, it can have severe consequences for people who are Baker Acted.

Baker Act Post Release Next Steps

After being released from the mental health facility, it is important that individuals take steps to continue on the path to recovery. Taking care of oneself by engaging in healthy activities, such as exercise, mindfulness, proper nutrition, and social activities, may help individuals deal with the symptoms of mental illness. Additionally, if the individual is prescribed medication, they should take them as instructed and attend follow-up doctor visits as needed.

It is also important to find support from family, friends, or social groups. Building a strong support system may provide the individual with more confidence and a sense of security. Regularly attending mental health therapy sessions can also help the individual work through their struggles in a safe and supportive environment. Mental health practitioners may also be able to provide coping mechanisms such as effective communication, problem-solving, and stress management skills.

Marchman Act vs Baker Act

The Baker Act

Used to get a loved one emergency psychological care

Formally known as the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, this statute provides involuntary mental health examination to an individual who either;

  • They are believed to have a mental illness
  • Is of harm to themselves or others (includes self-neglect)

While a person can Baker Act themselves, a Baker Act is initiated by doctors, judges, or police officers most of the time. However, during a crisis, such as threats of suicide or self-harm, a third party can submit an affidavit to get an individual “baker-acted” through the circuit court.

The Process

  • The individual is committed using another individual’s law enforcement officer, a physician, or an affidavit.
  • A law enforcement officer takes the person into custody and transports them to a receiving mental health facility.
  • The individual is examined and placed on a psychiatric hold for no more than 72 hours.
  • The patient is given a mental health evaluation, and further treatment is recommended based on the results.

The Florida Mental Health Act provides an option for loved ones who recognize that action must occur before an individual hurts themselves or others. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for addicts and alcoholics to feel so hopeless and helpless that they commit suicide.

While it can seem extreme, involuntary commitment to psychiatric care has saved many addicts and alcoholics in the past. Moreover, it continues to serve as a necessary push into recovery for those who need it.

The Baker Act is a legal way to avoid this tragic end and assist a loved one when they can not decide for themselves.
The Baker Act is a legal way to avoid this tragic end and assist a loved one when they can not decide for themselves.

The Marchman Act

Used to get a loved one into substance abuse treatment

Florida’s Marchman Act is a statute that assists families in getting their loved ones court-ordered and monitored stabilization and long-term treatment for substance abuse. Enacted in 1993, this law allows for involuntary assessment, stabilization, and treatment for those deemed unable to decide for themselves.

The Process

  • An affidavit is signed at the local county courthouse or clerk’s office.
  • A hearing is set before the court after a Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization is filed.
  • Following the hearing, the individual is held for five days for medical stabilization and assessment.
  • A Petition for Treatment must be filed with the court, and a second hearing is held for the court to review the assessment.
  • Based on the assessment and the recommendation that the individual needs extended help, the judge can order a 60-day treatment period with a possible 90-day extension if necessary.
  • If the addict exits treatment in violation of the judge’s order, the addict must return to court and answer to the court as to why they did not comply with treatment. Then the individual is born immediately for involuntary care.
  • If the addict refuses, they are held in civil contempt of court for not following treatment orders and are ordered to return to treatment or be incarcerated.

The Reality — In many cases, the threat or initial filing of the Marchman Act is enough to get reluctant addicts to agree to treatment and avoid the legal and personal hassle.

Because addiction is a medical condition, the process is strictly confidential. All hearings are held in closed courtrooms, and all assessment and treatment records are protected by Federal HIPPA law.

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Florida Baker Act Statute

Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes is the law that allows police, doctors, and family members to have someone committed to an involuntary 72-hour mental health examination. Both children and adults may be Baker Acted, which can be very scary for everyone involved. Baker Act longer than 72 hours; if deemed mentally stable, the person will be released. If further treatment is mandated, the individual can be admitted to a mental health facility for up to six months.

Baker Act Jacksonville FL (Baker Act Florida statute), like the rest of the Florida cities, encourages the voluntary admission of persons for psychiatric care, but only when they can understand the decision and not inflict harm to themselves or others. The Department of Children and Families (DCF Baker Act) offers contact information by service, county, or Judicial Circuit.

However, there are also real concerns about wrongful Baker Act facility abuse treatment and the lack of coordination between people Baker Acted and substance abuse services, even though research shows a clear connection between the two. Other mental health advocates fear “Baker Acting someone” and think it is a catch-all used to institutionalize people for whom there’s nowhere else to go.

Can you refuse to be Baker Acted? If you do not consent to the treatment plan that the doctor proposes, and if you are not deemed incompetent, then the hospital must discharge you. Alternatively, if you refuse to consent to the treatment, the hospital may take steps to commit you involuntarily, but this decision must be made within 24 hours.

Baker Act Florida phone number FREE HELP & INFORMATION CALL 800-782-2878 (Covid-19 – Hotline is Open)

How to Baker Act Someone in Florida?

To temporarily commit someone to a mental hospital, they must meet the following criteria: 

  • The person is mentally ill (or is believed to be mentally ill).  
  • The person refuses a voluntary mental health evaluation or doesn’t understand why one would be necessary. 
  • The person is a threat to themself or others or incapable of caring for themself.

How Long Does a Baker Act Stay on Your Record?

There’s currently no way to remove a Baker Act from your record if the police were involved. However, the report may only mention an incident with the police without additional details, especially if the matter never gets to trial. Baker Acts are also not listed on the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. 

How does the Baker Act affect employment? Having gone through the episode, you may be worried about what happened if you don’t remember the details and how this will impact your relationships with your friends, family, and employer. It’s perfectly appropriate to be concerned about what comes next. If you’re aware of your legal rights, you can pick up the pieces with a minimal negative impact on your career.

Who Can Baker Act Someone?

The Baker Act may be used to place that person under hold for up to 72 hours to ensure they’re safe and have access to supervised care. It may also be used by police officers who feel someone is no longer acting within their control. If someone is acting recklessly or erratically, a police officer may choose to use the law to have them evaluated for a mental illness. The law also allows you to voluntarily commit yourself to an evaluation if you feel you might harm yourself or another person. 

How to Look Up If Someone Has Been Baker Acted?

Unfortunately, if the case has been filed, the Court clerk will tell you nothing in Baker Act cases. But unlike a criminal case, there is no process for sealing and expunging this law. All documents and the images of all documents, filed in Baker Act cases shall be treated as confidential. Such files will not be “sealed,” but the viewing of a file is restricted to those persons authorized by this order.

What Else Do Family Members Need To Know About The Consequences Of Being Baker Acted?

If you have a loved one with a mental illness and believe they are a threat to themselves or others, talk to a mental health professional or another person qualified to initiate the Baker Act. These professionals include:

  • Psychiatrists
  • Physicians with mental health training
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Psychiatric Nurses
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselors
  • Judges
  • Law enforcement personnel

Questions That Families Often Ask:

  1. Can you visit someone who is Baker Acted?

    Yes, unless having visitors will be harmful to the person being treated. If a facility wants to restrict visitors from a patient, they must file a written notice documenting visitation refusal.

  2. How are voluntary and involuntary Baker Act Admissions different?

    voluntary BA is when an individual in need of emergency services is willing to receive and make an application for observation, evaluation, and treatment.

    With an involuntary BA, an individual may be taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination if there is reason to believe that the individual has a mental illness

  3. What happens after I file the petition with the court for involuntary admission and stabilization?

    The court shall issue a summons to the individual whose admission is sought and conduct a hearing within 10 days;

  1. Who pays for Baker Act in Florida? And how much does Baker Act cost?

    Payments for involuntary care may come from various sources, including public programs, private insurance, charity programs, and out-of-pocket spending. The cost may depend on the condition being treated and its severity.

  2. What is a Marchman Act?

    The Marchman Act is a law under Florida Statute that enables family or friends to obtain help for a loved one who is unwilling to seek substance use services voluntarily.

  3. What is a Marchman Act?

    The Marchman Act is a law under Florida Statute that enables family or friends to obtain help for a loved one who is unwilling to seek substance use services voluntarily.

  4. How much does it cost to file a Marchman Act in Florida?

    Hiring a lawyer to file the Marchman Act is generally the most expensive option, with retainers typically ranging anywhere from $7,500-$9,500.

Adults can use the Baker Act to apply for voluntary admittance to an inpatient treatment facility. Parents can also use the Act to have their loved ones voluntarily admitted. The Baker Act requires “substantial” evidence showing a person’s recent behavior suggests they pose a risk to themselves or others.

Overall, there are many ways to avoid severe mental illness. If a friend or family member is showing signs of a mental health problem or reaching out to you for help, you can also offer support by:

  • Finding out if the person is getting the care that he or she needs and wants—if not, connect him or her to help
  • Expressing your concern and support
  • Reminding your friend or family member that help is available and that mental health problems can be treated
  • Asking questions, listening to ideas, and being responsive when the topic of mental health problems comes up
  • Reassuring your friend or family member that you care about him or her
  • Offering to help your friend or family member with everyday tasks
  • Including your friend or family member in your plans—continue to invite him or her without being overbearing, even if your friend or family member resists your invitations.
  • Educating other people by making them understand the facts about mental health problems and not discriminate
  • Treating people with mental health problems with respect, compassion, and empathy

Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Baker Act Questions

  1. What does Baker Acted mean? Define Baker Act?

    It means that a person was admitted to a mental health hospital to be mentally assessed. Being Baker Acted means it DOES NOT guarantee long-term placement for individuals.

  2. Can you Baker Act yourself?

    Yes, a Baker Act can be voluntary. However, to willingly Baker Act yourself, you must be considered capable of consenting to treatment. Voluntary Baker Acting meaning is you have to visit an Emergency Room and describe your symptoms to medical professionals. Then, if necessary, the medical staff will request the FL Baker Act for you.

  3. How to find out if someone was Baker Acted?

    There will be a medical record, a police record if law enforcement was involved, and if a petition is filed for involuntary placement then also a court record. There is no procedure in the law to remove or seal the records of the law.

  4. How to get someone Baker Acted?

    It must be imposed by the courts, law enforcement, or medical/mental health professionals.

  5. Does insurance cover Baker Act?

    Payments for involuntary care may come from various sources, including public programs, private insurance, charity programs, and out-of-pocket spending.

  6. What is it like to be Baker Acted?

    Once a person petitions the court providing information, the court issues an ex parte order. That means an involuntary evaluation is required. A judge must grant this order based on the information available. Then, a law enforcement officer takes the person into custody and transports them to a location for help.

  7. How to Baker Act yourself?

    It can be voluntary. However, to willingly commit yourself, you must be considered capable of consenting to treatment. Visit an Emergency Room and describe your symptoms to medical professionals. If necessary, the medical staff will request the Baker Act.

  8. How long does a Baker Act last?

    Florida’s Baker Act law provides individuals with emergency services and temporary detention for up to 72 hours for mental health examination pursuant to Florida Statute Chapter 394.

  9. Does Baker Act go on your record?

    Yes. There will be a medical record, a police record if law enforcement was involved, and if a petition is filed for involuntary placement then also a court record. There is no procedure in the law to remove or seal the documents.

  10. How does Baker Act affect employment?

    You’re not legally obligated to inform your employer when you’ve been Baker Acted, and your employer is also not legally allowed to fire you for having a mental illness.

Importance of Seeking Mental Health Treatment

Sometimes it is helpful to make a comparison to a physical illness. For example, many people get sick with a cold or the flu, but only a few get sick with something severe like pneumonia. People who have a cold are usually able to do their everyday activities. However, if they get pneumonia, they will have to take medicine and may have to go to the hospital.

Who can rescind a Baker Act in Florida? A psychiatric resident can initiate an involuntary examination under the law only if he/she is fully licensed in Florida as a medical or osteopathic physician under chapters 458 or 459, FS. If not approved as a physician in Florida, he/she cannot initiate the Baker Act form Florida examination.
Who can rescind a Baker Act in Florida? A psychiatric resident can initiate an involuntary examination under the law only if he/she is fully licensed in Florida as a medical or osteopathic physician under chapters 458 or 459, FS. If not approved as a physician in Florida, he/she cannot initiate the “Baker Act form Florida” examination.

Similarly, feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, or sleep problems are typical for most people. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for an extended time, and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental health problem. And just like people need to take medicine and get professional help for physical conditions, someone with a mental health problem may need to take medication and participate in therapy to recover.

Do you need help starting a conversation about mental health? Try leading with these questions, and listen actively to your friend or family member’s response.

  • I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?
  • What can I do to help you talk about issues with your parents or someone who is responsible and cares about you?
  • What else can I help you with?
  • I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?
  • Who or what has helped you deal with similar issues in the past?
  • Sometimes talking to someone who has dealt with a similar experience helps. Do you know of others who have experienced these problems with whom you can speak?
  • It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?
  • How can I help you find more information about mental health problems?
  • I’m concerned about your safety. Have you thought about harming yourself or others?

When talking about mental health problems:

  • Know how to connect people to help
  • Communicate in a straightforward manner
  • Speak at a level appropriate to a person’s age and development level
  • Discuss the topic of when and where the person feels safe and comfortable
  • Watch for reactions during the discussion and slow down or back up if the person becomes confused or looks upset.

Are you looking for “Baker Act facilities near me” or “Baker Act attorney near me?” The We Level Up Florida treatment center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. In addition, we work as an integrated team providing information about the Baker Act and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Treatment and therapy from reputable mental health centers can help. We Level Up NJ provides mental health recovery programs for successful healing. If you think you’re suffering from mental health and have tried different ways to recover but cannot, that’s a clear sign you need professional help. 

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.

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Begin with a free call to a behavioral health treatment advisor. Learn more about our dual-diagnosis programs. The We Level Up treatment center network delivers recovery programs that vary by each treatment facility. Call to learn more.

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Search We Level Up FL “Baker Acted” Topics & Resources
Sources:

[1] FLSenate.Gov – https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/363/Analyses/h0363z2.CFS.PDF. baker-act-flyer-6.10.pdf (15thcircuit.com)

[2] https://solutions.spcollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Baker-Act-Information.pdf

[3] Mental Illness – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

[4] Galderisi S, Heinz A, Kastrup M, Beezhold J, Sartorius N. Toward a new definition of mental health. World Psychiatry. 2015 Jun;14(2):231-3. DOI: 10.1002/wps.20231. PMID: 26043341; PMCID: PMC4471980.

[5] Manwell LA, Barbic SP, Roberts K, Durisko Z, Lee C, Ware E, McKenzie K. What is mental health? Evidence towards a new definition from a mixed methods multidisciplinary, international survey. BMJ Open. 2015 Jun 2;5(6):e007079. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007079. PMID: 26038353; PMCID: PMC4458606.

[6] National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Common Mental Health Disorders: Identification and Pathways to Care. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society (UK); 2011. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 123.) 2, COMMON MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92254/

[7] Krystal JH, State MW. Psychiatric disorders: diagnosis to therapy. Cell. 2014 Mar 27;157(1):201-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.042. PMID: 24679536; PMCID: PMC4104191.

[8] National Institutes of Health (US); Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. NIH Curriculum Supplement Series [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institutes of Health (US); 2007. Information about Mental Illness and the Brain. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20369/

[9] Malla A, Joober R, Garcia A. “Mental illness is like any other medical illness”: a critical examination of the statement and its impact on patient care and society. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2015 May;40(3):147-50. DOI: 10.1503/jpn.150099. PMID: 25903034; PMCID: PMC4409431.

[10] About Mental Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention