If you clicked on this item from the NAMI Manatee County website, you are most likely concerned
about an individual who is close to you, and you are seeking advice?


This page describes the Baker Act (Law) and the ramifications as they may effect you.
We hope it will be helpful .........

The Baker Act is a law that provides for mandatory, involuntary mental health evaluation.

Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, and Police can instigate the Baker Act.
Additionally however, so can you - as a witness to the undiagnosed party's behavior or actions - by invoking an Ex Parte Order from the court. (See Below). The law applies to a person who may be a serious danger to themselves or to others.
This may also apply to persons who are likely to suffer from neglect or harm if a current behavior continues.
The law is designed to protect the patient and others from physical abuse or suicidal actions.
It is also designed to protect an individual from being incarcerated or treated, against their will, without good reason.
No further involuntary action can be taken until an individual is found to be suffering as defined within the law. 
Some individuals will not meet the criteria and will be released or recommended for further alternative treatment programs. 
Some will be transferred to other mental health facilities within the county.
During the period of involuntary admission (up to 72hrs), the law requires that the patient has to be examined and evaluated.
   Following the evaluation the patient will be:
(a) Released (unless charged with a crime).
(b) Released for outpatient treatment.
(c) Consent to voluntary placement or;
(d) A petition for involuntary placement will be filed with the court (within 5 days) by the facility administrator.
   If (d) is selected, a court is convened to decide.
The patient has the right to contest their status and continued involuntary treatment. The mental heath expert (psychiatrist – mental health professional), who executed the involuntary placement and believes it to be necessary or advantageous has to be a witness.  This hearing is usually held at the treatment facility with attorneys for both sides - the prosecution advocates for continuing involuntary treatment and the defense, "acting on the wishes of the individual “ will press for release.    Often this may be seen (by supporters/families of the patient) to be a reversal of the attorneys roles. This is felt when individuals, suffering from mental heath illnesses, have fallen foul of the criminal justice system and rely on support from the same defenders. Unfortunately, due to their inability to recognize their own illness (and resulting actions), the result of their choice for release could lead to imprisonment.
Frequently, it seems the sufferer is the last to know they're suffering.
Information gathered from Florida Baker Act Involuntary Examination Criteria Involuntary Placement

The Baker Act lawyer always acts on the clients 'wishes' and not in their 'best interest'.
When it is obvious that release from a treatment facility would not be in the clients best interest and continued treatment is advised by the medical staff a good compassionate lawyer will attempt to reason with the sufferer.
The client however has the last word and is often released.
Many times this leads to continued suffering by both the client and the client's supporters, and triggers an unfortunate cycle of Baker Act admissions and stressful situations.

Most of us want what is best for our loved ones and often advocate continued 'in patient' care, however, unless the patient agrees to voluntarily remain in treatment, the patient will be discharged. Often, unfortunately, this leads to a continuation or a resumption of the state of denial on the part of the sufferer, who although found 'not to be a danger to themselves or others', can still be seriously mentally ill. The ensuing outcome can be devastating to all concerned. Even in cases when a longer stay is granted, problems arise following release from treatment. During the longer stay the patient has partially responded to medication and treatment and is, against better judgment, able to convince a court that further 'in treatment' is unnecessary. Commonly even when the Mental Health treatment facility has provided a release 'follow up' plan the patient falls back into denial. The cycle repeats............ As frequently reported in media headlines, in some cases a patient can be released from care only to end up falling foul of the criminal justice system, leading to arrest and jail. Again, often the sufferer is the last to know they're suffering.

REGARDING EX PARTE: If you feel that your loved one is suffering a Mental Health Crisis and you feel that he or she is a danger to themselves or to others you have the right to petition for an Ex Parte Order for involuntary examination. The petition and affidavit can be filed by any person who has first hand knowledge of the person’s recent behavior. You must provide proper identification for your acknowledgment before a Notary Public or Deputy Clerk.
If you choose this course of action make sure you have good (documented if possible) proof of the symptoms, mental health history and behavior of the subject individual. You will have to attend the courthouse and be sworn in under oath but you will not appear in front of the judge.
Forms are available at the court and your signature will be witnessed by a court clerk.

The petition and affidavit can be filed by any person who has first hand knowledge of the person’s recent behavior. You must provide proper identification for your acknowledgment before a Notary Public or Deputy Clerk.
You must swear in the petition and affidavit that you have witnessed the person causing harm to themselves or others and all other facts that will show the Judge that the person is mentally ill. You must also show that you have tried to convince the person to take a voluntary examination.
As soon as you file the petition with the Clerk of Court, they will bring it to the Judge’s Office for review, which will normally be completed by 4:00 P.M. the same day, so long as the petition is filed before 2:00 P.M.
COURT DETERMINATION. Relying solely on the contents of the petition, the Court will either: (1) enter an ex parte order authorizing the involuntary examination of the Person (2) set a hearing without entering an ex parte order, or (3) deny your petition.
(1) If the Court determines that the person meets the guidelines for involuntary examination, it shall enter an Ex Parte Order for Involuntary Examination. As soon as the order is entered, it will be delivered back to the Clerk of Court for preparation of a Rev. 11/18/2005 2 packet for you to pick up and deliver to the Sheriff’s Office. You must provide the Sheriff’s Office with the location of the person so they may immediately pick that person up and transport them to the nearest examination and treatment facility. Please complete the LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION SHEET and deliver to the Sheriff’s Office to assist them in identifying the person. If the person cannot be located by the Sheriff’s Office, they will hold the order for seven (7) days and continue attempts to take the person into custody. If they cannot locate the person after the seven day period, the order will be returned to the Clerk of Court as unserved.
Unless your petition is denied, the Court shall determine whether or not an attorney should be appointed for the Person. If the Court believes that the Person needs the assistance of counsel, the Court may appoint counsel for the Person without regard to the Person’s wishes. Petition and Affidavit Seeking Ex Parte Order Requiring Involuntary Examination.


CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM Tragically, jails and prisons are emerging as the "psychiatric hospitals" of the 1990s.
A sample of 1400 NAMI families surveyed in 1991 revealed that 40 percent of family members with severe mental illness had been arrested one or more times.
Other national studies reveal that approximately 8 percent of all jail and prison inmates suffer from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar
disorders. These statistics are a direct reflection of the failure of public mental health systems to provide appropriate care and treatment to individuals with severe mental illness. These horrifying statistics point directly to the need of NAMI families and consumers to develop greater familiarity with the workings of their local criminal justice
systems. Key personnel in these systems, such as police officers, prosecutors, public defenders and jail employees may have limited knowledge about severe mental
illness and the needs of those who suffer from these illnesses. Moreover, the procedures, terminology and practices which characterize the criminal justice system
are likely to be bewildering for consumers and family members alike.
This guide is intended to serve as an aid for those people thrust into interaction with local criminal justice systems. Since criminal procedures are complicated and often
differ from state to state, readers are urged to consult the laws and procedures of their states and localities.
Obviously, this guide is not a substitute for a lawyer. However, the information contained here will hopefully be useful for consumers, family members and advocates in developing
a basic understanding of criminal procedures and terminology. Additionally, the guide includes helpful hints to enable families and
others to impact at the various stages of criminal processes.

NAMI would particularly like to thank Robert J. Kaplan, Esq. for his work in drafting this guide and to the NAMI Forensic Network and the National Coalition for the
Mentally Ill in the Criminal Justice System, for their important assistance. Comments and questions about this publication should be directed to:
NAMI Office of Legal Affairs
2107 Wilson Blvd, Suite 300
Arlington, VA. 22201

I sincerely hope that this guide proves to be a useful tool for NAMI members and others seeking to improve the treatment for persons with severe mental illness in
criminal justice systems.

Ron Honberg – Director of Legal Affairs, NAMI Microsoft Word - Guide to Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice 04/17/2008

Microsoft Word - Guide to Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice 04/17/2008
NAMI Guide to Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System. Tragically, jails and prisons are emerging as the "psychiatric hospitals" of the 1990s. These statistics are a direct reflection of the failure......

JAIL or TREATMENT FACILITY? When you feel that an individual is displaying actions that you believe to be a danger to the self, yourself or others do not hesitate to call 911. Most of us know when our loved one presents themselves in an abnormal way and know that even though they may have committed a crime it was directly due to their illness. Unfortunately a law officer who has been summoned to an incident may not be able to determine that the individual is suffering a psychotic incident and will (unfortunately) take the individual to jail and not to a treatment center. The Jail System is not what you would call " accommodating". Many sufferers due to their illnesses are convicted of crimes that lead to incarceration. Often (at that point) we feel that because of the sufferers condition our loved one is in a better, safer place with expectations of recovery. Unfortunately this is where things go awry.
First, it is quite normal for sufferers to be in denial of their condition and refuse treatment. If necessary the prison authorities may place the individual in restraints but they wont treat the illness.
Second, unless the prison takes action to get the individual to sign a consent to discuss their medical conditions with outsiders - it wont happen. That means that even though your loved one was diagnosed with a mental illness 45 years ago and has just recently gone into denial and stopped the medication for which you have documentation (or even re-fills) it doesn't matter.   You need to get the release form signed.
Third, usually a psychiatric evaluation will be ordered to be performed by the prison psychologist to confirm that the prisoner is competent to stand trial. Often, even when the sufferer is displaying manic and delusional symptoms the psychologist finds the individual competent but with problems. None of which means that treatment will ensue. Sometimes a prisoner is scheduled for a further examination at a later date.
Forth, the sufferer is offered medication but refuses.
Fifth, the sufferer starts on a course of treatment but its not right.
Sixth, the sufferer starts a course of treatment and starts to improve and is consequently released on bail. As the treatment is in its early stages we, who know our loved one, can easily recognize the incomplete stage of treatment and believe early release is inappropriate.
Seventh, similar to events following a term as an in-patient at a treatment facility following a Baker Act admission, many of us are worried (fearful) that our 'loved ones' could be discharged from treatment or even released from Jail on bail without treatment or before a noticeable improvement in their condition has occurred. Because of their instability supporters are not prepared to have them home.

Left to their own devices the prognoses for the future of the individuals released from Jail or Hospital  is not good. In addition to easing jail populations, and reducing costs,

JAIL DIVERSION PROGRAMS are a better way to deal with persons with mental illness. According to NAMI, up to 40 percent of adults with mental illness will come into contact with law enforcement, and are often jailed for nonviolent, victimless crimes. Nationally, 16 percent of the jail population is incarcerated for offenses related to mental illness, mental retardation, or substance abuse. Of these, 60 percent to 75 percent were jailed for nonviolent offenses. MORE> Jail Diversion Programs

(Arising from the experiences of a local NAMI Member)

Your loved one, when either manic or depressed can become self absorbed, isolated, recluse, and hard to communicate with.

You can request a "Wellness Check" to determine the wellness and the conditions in which a sufferer is living from the Police, as often as you like.

When you feel that an individual is displaying actions that you believe to be a danger to them self, yourself or others do not hesitate to call 911.
Ask for a C. I. T. trained officer. They will be able to determine if an individual needs to be taken for treatment. They could be better at persuading voluntary treatment, but will if necessary evoke the Baker Act. They will usually give you a report should you request.
Any Police Officer can instigate a Baker Act.

IF IN DENIAL your loved one most likely wont call you to let you know where they are and quite possibly wont let anyone else do it either. (You have no doubt been actively encouraging them to go into treatment without success). So, if your loved one suddenly disappears off the face of the earth following recent actions attributable to psychotic episodes call the police and make a report. There is a good chance they will be able to locate the individual.

Get your Loved one to sign a release of information A.S.A.P.
Pester Defense Lawyers and Speak nicely to prison staff and/or care givers. Tell them of your loved one's Mental Health History and produce documentation if possible, (if necessary without making them respond to your questions regarding your loved one or even confirm that the individual is in their care).

Get them to try continuously to encourage the individual to sign the release and to accept treatment.

Petition for an Ex Parte Order Requiring Involuntary Examination when you deem it necessary. Your Loved one might not like it today but hopefully the end result will justify your actions.

When your son, daughter, whoever says "The voices have gone" you will know it was all worth it...............

Find out If there is to be a Baker Act Hearing and Be There - whichever side of the fence you are on - with your evidence. It is unlikely anyone will invite you so you need to do your research. The facilities normally have their court sessions on the same day each week.
If there is a Criminal Trial Be There - whichever side of the fence you are on - with your evidence.
Make sure that there is an appropriate, workable release plan. Make your feelings known if you doubt its credibility.
If you have any advice for adding to this list through actual experiences please email .

If you believe you or a family member may be hospitalized for mental healthcare in the future, the completion of a psychiatric or mental health advance directive will help make the patient's treatment preferences known. The healthcare surrogate form helps communications between the surrogate and the healthcare provider.   Any competent adult may designate a surrogate, and alternate surrogate and or/ a Health Care Authority Surrogate to make all health care decisions during any period of incapacity.

During the patient's incapacity, the Health Care Surrogate has the duty to consult expeditiously, with appropriate health care providers. The Surrogate also provides informed consent and makes only health care decisions for the patient, which he or she believes the patient would have made under the circumstances if the patient were capable of making such decisions. If there is no indication of what the maker would have chosen, the Surrogate may consider the patient's best interest in deciding on a course of treatment. The suggested form of this instrument has been provided by the Legislature within Florida Statutes Section 765.203 'Advance Directives'.

THE CRISIS INTERVENTION TEAM(CIT) is a team of uniformed patrol police officers who have attended and graduated a nationally acclaimed 40 hour CIT training course.on response to calls or situations from or about persons who are suffering a Mental Health Crisis. The officers have learnt how to face challenges when a person is threatening suicide, or is a danger to themselves or others or displaying other dangerous or abnormal behavior or symptoms. The course provides law enforcement officers with information on mental illnesses, medication, crisis intervention, de-escalation techniques, and Baker Act procedures. It is co-taught by mental health professionals, family members, and consumers.

This program originated in Memphis C.I.T. Memphis in 1988 and now here in Florida we have more than 3000 trained officers.

Here in Manatee County the program course is held annually in a joint team effort between the various Police, Sheriff and Jail personnel plus Manatee Glens and NAMI Manatee County.

Further info re CIT:
Memphis Crisis Intervention Team Overview - CIT Center
University of Memphis

Memphis. Crisis Intervention Team. Overview. Page

The Memphis Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is an innovative police based first responder program that has become nationally known as the “Memphis Model” [PDF]CIT Toolkit CIT Facts - NAMI


Crisis intervention course helps law enforcement assist mentally ill - By Laura C. Morel Tampabay Times

The 46-year-old man had just lost his job, wanted to kill himself, and kept a gun in his closet.

Responding officers found his suicide note and chatted with him about his problems, how he needed money to send his daughter off to college, how he wasn't sure what was next.

They offered to take him to Morton Plant Hospital for an evaluation. "We need to fix this," Pinellas Sheriff's Deputy Sheila Langlais told him, "and get you some help." The man was actually Cedric Taylor, a mental health technician who was role-playing in an exercise during Pinellas County's Crisis Intervention Team program, designed to improve interactions between law enforcement and people with mental illness. "They're not dealing with criminals," said Donald Turnbaugh, past president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which helped found the Pinellas program. "They're dealing with people who are ill through no fault of their own." CIT began in Memphis in 1988 and eventually expanded to other states and countries. Pinellas was the first Florida county, in 1999, to offer it. Now, 40 counties in the state, including Hillsborough, Hernando, and Pasco, participate. Roughly 1,300 Pinellas officers have completed the 40-hour course, offered for free by mental health professionals, advocates and law enforcement agencies. Statewide, about 20,000 have graduated. Law enforcement officers come in contact with the mentally ill often. At the Sheriff's Office, the largest agency in Pinellas, deputies respond to an average of eight mental health-related calls a day. "In the (police) academies, we learn how to shoot, we learn how to drive cars, and we learn how to do all these defensive tactics," said Pinellas Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Kelley, a CIT coordinator. "Using your mouth and using your knowledge is probably going to be more beneficial to the public that are suffering from mental illness than any gun or Taser." CIT is typically offered twice a year. In October, 35 officers from several departments attended the course and learned about the signs of different illnesses, medication side effects, de-escalation techniques, and information on mental health resources in the county.


On the first day, Kelley asked them to wear headsets. For 30 minutes, the officers listened to what a person suffering a psychotic episode might experience.

The recording started with whispers and giggles, followed by two or three voices:

"I came for you."

"You think this is funny, don't you?"

"They know what you did."

Kelley then asked the officers, while still wearing headphones, to complete a middle school level test on the Dallas Cowboys and a basic word search. Many couldn't complete either.

"When you got four police officers standing in front of you barking orders at you . . . what are they hearing? Who knows," Kelley told them after the exercise. "Let one officer do the talking."

Doug Leonardo, executive director at BayCare Behavioral Health, said CIT-trained officers typically provide relevant information to psychiatric facilities when they bring in someone for an evaluation.

"For the most part, law enforcement really doesn't know whether the individual in front of them has ever been treated, is currently in treatment, or needs treatment," he said. "They're coming upon the scene with more questions than answers. The training they receive really better prepares them for that."

Michael Hatch is among the roughly 160 Clearwater police officers who have received the training. He uses it often to interact with homeless people, many of whom are coping with a mental illness.

Several years ago, Hatch responded to a Clearwater Beach condo after a teenage girl threatened to kill herself. Some officers stayed inside with her parents while Hatch ventured outside to the balcony, where the girl sat on a chair.

After several minutes, she came inside and consented to a psychiatric evaluation.

"Whatever the pains and frustrations that they're having," Hatch said, "you have to be able to relate to them."

Contact Laura C. Morel at or (727)445-4157. Follow @lauracmorel.

Crisis intervention course helps law enforcement assist mentally ill 11/06/14 [Last modified: Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:57am]

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