Understanding The Florida Marchman Act

Instituted in 1993, the Florida Marchman Act, also known as the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act, is designed to provide family members, certain professionals, and friends with legal access to emergency intervention for those who simply cannot help themselves. Under this act, relatives and others who are close to people dealing with severe substance abuse may be able to step in even when help isn’t wanted. Leveraging this act might prove necessary if an individual has refused to accept or seek addiction treatment, cannot acquire help on his or her own, or is currently in danger of self-harming or causing harm to others.

When a person is under the age of 18, this individual’s parents can admit him or her to a professional treatment clinic against his or her will and consent. As soon as this same individual becomes a legal adult, however, this is no longer true. Thus, it can be quite difficult to obtain drug or alcohol treatment for any adult who is unwilling to receive it. Frequently referred to as involuntary commitment, leveraging the Marchman Act can be an effective way to bypass a person’s refusal for treatment so that essential and potentially life-saving services can be received. When getting treatment is a matter of life or death, this act aims to give family members legal options.

Is The Florida Marchman Act Right For Your Loved One?

The overarching goal of the Marchman Act is to ensure that those who are in dire need of help are able to receive it. Making rational and life-supporting decisions isn’t always easy for those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. In order to leverage the Marchman Act legally and effectively, however, family members must show that the person in question is unable to make rational decisions alone. They must also show that they are taking legal action in good faith and not with the intent of falsely detaining an innocent person. It’s vital to note that choosing to refuse treatment is not enough on its own to justify involuntary commitment. Those seeking to initiate the Marchman Act must demonstrate to the judge that the person in question has a severe substance abuse problem, that he or she is not of sound body and mind, and that treatment is essential for avoiding serious and potentially life-threatening consequences. Certain factors may make it easier for a person’s relatives or friends to make such a case. For instance, a judge might find a person incapable of making ration decisions if:

  • He or she has demonstrated a clear inability to stop using drugs or alcohol
  • Has already caused self-harm or harm to others
  • Has a significant criminal history

How To Start The Evaluation Process For The Marchman Act

If you are the parent, spouse, guardian, or other relative of someone who is struggling with substance abuse, you can file a petition to have your loved one evaluated for possible involuntary commitment. If you are not a relative, you must be accompanied in your petition by two unrelated parties who also believe that outside intervention is required. Law enforcement officers, physicians, and licensed therapists additionally have the right to submit a petition. In fact, these professionals can submit emergency petitions for immediate action when the individual’s substance abuse is particularly severe.

All paperwork pertaining to the petition will need to be filed with the court clerk in the county in which the respondent lives. You will need to attest to the truthfulness of the documents you intend to submit, and your petition must be notarized before being presented to the judge. If the judge rules in your favor, immediate action can be taken via an Ex Parte order. If the related substance abuse is believed to be less severe, the respondent may be given an opportunity to appear in court before any ruling is made.

How The Florida Marchman Act Can Help You

Watching a loved one physically, mentally, and emotionally deteriorate as the result of substance abuse can be devastating. In fact, it can be especially difficult to see when you know that your relative or friend is incapable of helping his or herself. In some instances, tough love and waiting for people to hit “rock bottom” on their own is simply not an option. In these cases, leveraging the Marchman Act could be a life-saving choice. If you’re able to prove to the judge that your intentions are good, that the respondent is in dire need of professional help, and that this person is unable to make sound decisions alone, your dreams of getting the respondent into treatment could quickly become a reality. Are you ready to get started? Call us today at 833-497-3808.