What is a Marchman Act Hearing?

There is a law in Florida that makes it possible to get a voluntary or involuntary assessment of an individual who may be abusing drugs or alcohol. The goal is for the person to be treated and stabilized. It is known as the Marchman Act. This act is also referred to as the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993.


It begins with an initial Marchman Act petition. This must be filed in good faith. This means it can’t be used to detain an innocent person. The petition must also be filed by an individual who has direct knowledge of a person’s substance abuse. These are people who are at risk for harming others or themselves unless they are given proper treatment.


There were changes made to the Florida Marchman Act as of July 2016. If the subject is an adult, only one person with first-hand knowledge is required to file. Should the subject be a minor, the petition must be filed by a licensed service provider, parent, legal custodian, or legal guardian. It is also important to establish that the subject can’t make a rational decision concerning their need for treatment. They have to have a history of refusing assessment for treatment. The Marchman Act can also be used for individuals who have co-occurring disorders. It is valid for subjects who have mental illness as well as substance abuse issues.

Hearing Date

Once a petition is filed with a court based on the Marchman Act, a date for a hearing will be set within 10-days. This date will be determined by the clerk of the court. It is also possible for a judge to review the petition and deny it or grant it with no hearing. Should a hearing date be set, the respondent listed in the petition will be served a notice of the time and date of the hearing. They will also be provided other paperwork. It is common for the paperwork to be served by someone from law enforcement. The paperwork could also be served by a person approved to serve court documents. If the petition and documents can’t be served, it is possible the hearing could be canceled. Should a respondent be unable to afford an attorney, they will be appointed one as is required by law.

Present At Hearing

During the hearing, there will be testimony concerning personal observations of the individual in question. This will be heard by a magistrate or judge. Should they determine the testimony provides a real need for an assessment, the magistrate or judge will sign an order for the assessment to be provided. Should the individual in question be at the hearing, it may be possible for them to be assessed immediately. The individual could also be held for an assessment.

Absent From Hearing

Should the person who has been petitioned and served not attend the Marchman Act hearing, or does not go to an assessment as ordered by the court, a magistrate or judge will have law enforcement get the individual and take them to an assessment location. The assessment must be completed within 72 hours.

After Assessment

Once an assessment is finished, the results will show if a person needs treatment. A magistrate or judge can then order the individual in question to complete a minimum of 60 days of treatment. A treatment center may request a person’s treatment stay go past 60 days. Some people will need more time in rehabilitation to address their issues.

Open Facilities

The treatment facilities where people are sent after a Marchman Act hearing are not secured. If someone at the treatment facility wants to leave, they can easily leave. The court will be informed, and a status conference hearing will be conducted to deal with the issue. If the individual in question does not attend their status hearing, they could be found in contempt by the court. When this happens, they could be ordered to once again attend treatment or face legal consequences.


The money to pay for a person’s treatment is funded in a few ways.

  • The individual or someone close to them pays for it
  • The Government pays for it
  • It is covered by an individual’s insurance policy
  • Donations
  • Medicaid helps individuals who have children, are disabled, or who are over 64 and have a low income

A Marchman Act hearing could stop someone from abusing drugs or alcohol for a specified length of time. It is also possible for them to go back to their bad habits after being released. Pursuing sobriety is always up to the individual. Are you ready to help yourself or a loved one become sober? If so, call us today at 833-497-3808. Our counselors are available to help 24 hours a day.