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Involuntary Commitment

What is an involuntary commitment?

A procedure whereby a person is involuntarily placed in the custody
of the State Department of Mental Health for treatment.

What procedure is used to initiate an involuntary commitment?

Any person may seek to have another person committed by filing a
petition with the Probate Court. The petition must contain the
following:

  1. name and address of the petitioner; and
  2. name and location of defendant’s spouse, attorney or
    next of kin; and
  3. that petitioner has reason to believe defendant is
    mentally ill; and
  4. petitioner’s beliefs are based on specific behavior,
    acts, attempts or threats which are described in detail; and
  5. names and addresses of the other people with
    knowledge of the defendant’s illness or who observed the person’s
    overt acts and who may be called as his witnesses.

Must there be a hearing?

Yes, a hearing is to be held by Probate Judge without a jury and it
is open to the public unless requested otherwise by the defendant.
Commitment is granted only if the elements required are established
by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence.

What are the results for the hearing?

If commitment is granted, the order shall be entered for outpatient
or inpatient treatment. The least restrictive alternative necessary
and available for the treatment of the defendant’s mental illness
shall be ordered. Inpatient treatment may be ordered at a state or a
designated mental health facility. Outpatient treatment may be
ordered at a designated mental health facility if said facility if
said facility consents to treat the defendant on an outpatient
basis.