if you live in Florida, you may already be aware of the Marchman Act of 1993. This law allows the involuntary substance abuse commitment of someone with a drug abuse problem who is also a danger to themselves or others. Really, the whole idea is in direct opposition to the constitutional guarantees of life and liberty, where it clearly says that no citizen can be deprived of their liberty without due process of law. The Marchman Act does require court hearings, but this is for someone, you, who is not charged with a crime. Sentencing to jail or prison requires conviction of a crime. In the case of someone with a Marchman Act filed against them, they are charged with no crime. However, many states have versions of these same laws. If you’re wondering, “how can I get a Marchman Act dropped,” this article will provide some valuable information for you.
The Filing Process
To file a Marchman against you, family members or three or more unrelated persons together must file a petition in the court. An attorney isn’t necessary, but it’s highly advisable. It’s highly likely that unless someone has filed this before, they will make important mistakes unless they have an attorney. Let them. Don’t make comments and don’t offer to help. In court, let them talk and remain silent unless the judge asks you something. Remember, they have to prove their case. You are required to prove nothing.
The judge will evaluate the facts and then decide if the petition is is valid or not. If not, you’re free to go. If so, you will be required to present yourself at a designated treatment facility for evaluation. If the center thinks you don’t need treatment, you’re free to leave. If they do, the judge will decide how long. Here, you have another advantage because the costs of the program are the petitioner’s responsibility, not yours.
First of all, you have a tremendous and automatic advantage. Because your liberty and free will is at stake, the court will automatically provide an attorney free of charge. The petitioner, the other party filing against you, must pay for their own attorney if they want one. Many people will try to spare this expense. It might even be something they can’t afford. If the petition isn’t done exactly right, your attorney will have it dismissed outright. The smallest technical mistake is enough. Of course, the petitioner can try again, but they must start over, and they might make more mistakes next time. If the petition is repeatedly denied by the judge, the other party might give up or try something else.
You also have another advantage: the petitioner must prove their accusations against you. They must demonstrate a clear case of harm to either yourself, someone else or both. It’s not just about their opinion. You don’t have to prove you don’t have a substance abuse problem; the petitioner must prove that you do. All your attorney really has to do is discredit their allegations. If the petitioner cannot prove their case to the judge, it will be denied and you’re free to go.
One thing you don’t want to do is ignore the matter. You don’t have to appear in court just because the petitioner tells you to, and you probably shouldn’t. However, a summons from the court is a legally binding document making your appearance mandatory. If you refuse, the judge can issue an order for the police to come pick you up and deliver you to the court. This will likely involve at least several days in jail on what amounts to be a no-bail warrant. Judges get angry when people refuse to appear. Don’t tick off the judge. He or she might just be on your side.
Your best bet is to appear at the court on time. Dress conservatively. This means a neutral-tone jacket, business shirt and tie with nice slacks for men and a skirt, dress or nice pantsuit for women. Stick to neutral colors and make sure you’re covered around the bust area and that your skirt or dress isn’t more than an inch or two above the knee at most. Pull your hair back so your face clearly shows and arrange it neatly.
It goes without saying not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Dilated or pinned pupils are visible from a fair distance away, and judges aren’t stupid. If you’re high, he or she will likely suspect that. To be extra safe, be prepared to give a clean urine sample. In fact, you can offer to.
Call for More Information
We can explain the Marchman Act to you in detail. Just call us anytime at 833-497-3808. We can also discuss alternatives that may avoid a Marchman altogether. We’re here to help.