Watching someone you love constantly fight the ongoing battle of drug or alcohol addiction can make you feel helpless, sorrowful, and downright exhausted. This is all the more true when the person suffering from substance use disorder is a legal adult and unwilling or unable to get essential help on his or her own. In instances like these, Florida’s Marchman Act may make it possible to have this person involuntarily committed to a needs-specific treatment facility. The goal of this act is to ensure that people who are unable to make rational decisions about drug or alcohol treatment for themselves can still get the services and support they require.
Although leveraging the Marchman Act sounds like a swift and easy way to deal with a person’s substance abuse problem, there are a number of protections that lie in place for an individual who’s potentially facing involuntary commitment. For instance, all petitioning parties must prove that they are acting in good faith. This means that they are not taking this legal action as a means for falsely detaining someone who is innocent or ultimately able to make sound treatment decisions on their own behalf. Moreover, when using the Marchman Act as a means for having involuntary commitment enacted, you must be able to prove to the judge that the person in question requires this high level of intervention. This can be accomplished by providing examples of the severity of substance abuse, showing that mandatory treatment could be life-saving, and presenting the respondent as being unable to make treatment decisions alone. Although it generally takes just 10 days to get a hearing when petitioning, the length of time that it takes to get order will largely depend upon your ability to meet these requirements.
Understanding The Process Of Instituting A Marchman Act Petition
The process of requesting a Marchman Act hearing begins with the successful and complete filing of a Marchman Act petition. To file this petition, you must be a guardian, parent, or other relative. If you are not of legal or natural relation to the respondent, your petition must be filed along with two additional parties who all support one another in this claim. Friends, co-workers, and other close associates can come together to establish a unified and legally recognized, three-party petitioner. Your petition will need to be filed in the county in which the respondent currently resides with the Clerk of the Court. Within ten days of a complete filing, a court date will be set, respondents will be notified of their court dates by in-person service from a county sheriff, and petitioners will receive a notification via certified mail.
During your court hearing, you and any other parties who are part of your petition can present your arguments for involuntary commitment to the court by offering testimony and evidence pertaining to drug use, the potential for personal harm or harm to others, and the respondent’s inability to make rational and beneficial decisions. If the respondent is present at the time of your hearing and if the judge believes your argument to be a valid one, this individual can be assessed right away. If assessment is not possible at the time of the hearing, the respondent can be alternatively held until a proper assessment is performed. When respondents do not show up for their court dates, they will be served with notices to appear for assessment.
In some circumstances, such as when a person’s drug use, criminal behavior, or general behavior is severe, certain professionals can appeal for an emergency Ex Parte order. With this special type of Marchman Act petition, court dates and the related hearings and assessments are expedited so that patients in dire need of treatment can receive help right away. Suitable filers for emergency Ex Parte orders include the patient’s personal physician or therapist, caseworkers, and other licensed parties who work directly with the respondent.
When appropriate for someone who’s dealing with substance use disorder, leveraging the Marchman Act can often be a fairly swift and seamless process. If you are eager to get your family member or friend the help he or she needs, understanding the timeline for petitioning can be key to success. If you’re ready to get started, we are always here to help. Call us now at 833-497-3808 for guidance and detailed information on the available treatment options.