- To obtain court-ordered involuntary mental illness hospitalization or treatment for a person, a Petition for Mental Health Treatment must be filled out and two clinical certificates of the person’s mental illness must be completed (unless the request is for assisted outpatient treatment AOT).
- A completed petition should include a report of observations or witness statements which are basis for the request, address information on all relevant relatives (if no spouse, then next of kin), and whether or not the person is a veteran.
- If someone is not able to have the person examined, he/she may be able to file a Supplemental Petition for Examination/Hospitalization and Order for an order to have the person examined and for law enforcement to pick up the person and transport him/her to Community Mental Health (CMH) for the examination.
- The supplemental petition requires the petitioner to affirm under oath that he/she has been unable, after reasonable effort, to secure an examination, and give the reasons for not getting the examination.
- It is possible that someone transported to CMH for examination is not in a proper state for mental health assessment and may need some type of stabilization at a hospital. Initial pick-up orders are not available in relation to petitions for AOT.
The Clinical Certificate
- The clinical certificate certifies that the individual personally examined is mentally ill and a person requiring treatment.
- The first certificate can be executed by any physician or licensed psychologist and is good for up to 72 hours prior to hospitalization.
- The second certificate must be completed by a psychiatrist within 24 hours of hospitalization.
Pending the Hearing
- The hearing on the petition must be held within 7 days of the court’s receipt of the paperwork, except that a petition for AOT when the person is not psychiatrically hospitalized must be held within 28 days .
- Unless ordered to be hospitalized, the person can be allowed to return home pending the hearing.
- The court will appoint an attorney for the person.
The Deferral Agreement
- Before the scheduled hearing on the petition (except for one asking for AOT), the person and his/her attorney will meet to discuss whether the person will voluntarily agree to undergo mental health treatment.
- If the respondent so agrees, a deferral agreement will be filled out and signed.
- The hospital for any hospitalization and the supervisor of any outpatient treatment (this is CMH, unless there is another entity willing and able to do this) must be identified.
- The deferral period for a petition is 90 days; if there is no action after 90 days the petition is dismissed.
Subsequent Non-Compliance with the Deferral Agreement
- If, during the deferral period, the person deferring does not comply with the agreement he/she signed (either in the hospital or in outpatient treatment) the court is to be notified immediately through a demand for hearing to convene a hearing on the deferred petition.
- A hearing before the judge on the original petition will be scheduled.
- The person has a right to be present; his/her attorney will be present.
- A physician or psychologist who has personally examined the person must testify at the hearing. AOT petitions require EITHER the testimony or deposition of an evaluating doctor/psychologist and psychiatrist OR a clinical certificate from a psychiatrist plus the testimony or deposition of an evaluating doctor/psychologist.
- The petitioner must attend the hearing.
- The judge will listen to the testimony and make a decision whether or not to order mental illness hospitalization and/or outpatient treatment for the person.
The Initial Order
- The typical initial order for mental health treatment will authorize up to 60 days of hospitalization and up to 90 days of alternative treatment. AOT can be ordered and can last for 180 days.
- The initial order may contain a conditional pick-up order such that if after release from the hospital the person fails to abide by a psychiatrist’s order to return to the hospital, law enforcement will pick up the person and transport him/her to the hospital.
Non-Compliance with the Order
- If a person does not comply with ordered hospitalization or alternative treatment, the supervising agency or mental health professional must notify the court immediately.
- The court may order law enforcement to pick up the person and take him/her to CMH.
Petitions for Second or Continuing Orders
- Not less than 14 days before the expiration of an order someone may file a petition for a second or continuing mental illness order so that the person continues to receive mental illness hospitalization or outpatient treatment.