What Is a Relapse After Being Marchman Acted?

Not everyone is aware of the Marchman Act. In fact, some people may be surprised to learn that someone can actually be legally forced, by physical means if necessary, to attend a drug rehabilitation program. Most states have some sort of legislation regarding forced substance abuse treatment. At least on the east coast, probably the most well-known law regarding forced drug treatment is the Marchman Act. This article will discuss: what is a relapse after being Marchman acted?

Relapse is Expected

Relapse is a normal part of drug abuse recovery. Failure is common. Treatment often doesn’t work the first time. Some people may need to return to drug rehab several times before they can maintain long-term sobriety. Others continue to abuse drugs and alcohol in spite of repeated attendance at even the finest facilities. However, the Marchman Act adds a unique facet to this reality. Because the treatment was forced, it’s not really much of a revelation to learn that relapse pursuant to a Marchman Act is likely to happen in a great percentage of cases, if not all of them.

The Marchman

Florida’s Marchman Act provides for court-ordered drug treatment, typically residential, although it’s sometimes on an outpatient basis, too. The law requires filing of a court document called a petition by a first-degree relative. This means sibling, child, parent or spouse. Not just anyone can file. However, the Marchman does allow for filing by at least three unrelated people who have come together. Filing by certain medical professionals is also permitted.

The person filing the petition is called the petitioner. The other party is called the respondent. The burden of proof is entirely on the petitioner. He, she or they must convince a judge that the respondent is a danger to himself or herself or others. This kind of proof might not be so easy to come by, and the judge will absolutely not deprive a person who has committed no crime of their right to liberty lightly.

More, the court will appoint free counsel for the respondent but not for the petitioner. This insures that the respondent’s rights are protected at all times. The petitioner must either pay for an attorney to handle the case or file the petition in pro per, meaning without an attorney. Although the retainer for a Marchman petition may be as high as $10,000, it may be wise to pay it. The Marchman law is complex, and if the petitioner makes the slightest mistake, the respondent’s counsel will know and will use this error to get his or her client’s Marchman case dismissed. If this happens, the respondent is free to go. The petitioner can choose between giving up or starting another petition from scratch, paying all expenses all over again.

Legal Proceedings

If the petitioner decides to try again, even with an attorney this time, the petition must still be filed on the respondent personally. More than likely, he or she will now be extremely difficult to find and wary of any attempt of service on them. The case cannot proceed without proof of service. The case itself must be filed within the court district of the respondent’s residence, not the petitioner’s. If this is far away, that’s yet another issue for the petitioner. If the respondent lives or moves out of the state of Florida, a Marchman cannot be filed at all. The petitioner would then have to file the petition according to the laws of the the other state and travel there to file. Filing fees alone can be staggering: as much as $500 or more just to file the petition.

All expenses must be borne by the petitioner. This also includes the cost of the treatment itself. If the judge agrees that drug treatment is indicated, he or she will order the respondent to attend an evaluation at a facility associated with the court. If this facility reports that treatment is needed, then the judge orders the respondent to attend a drug program, typically residential and usually between 30 and 90 days in duration. If the judge finds that the petition has failed to prove their case, then the respondent is free to go.

Relapse After a Marchman

This is almost a given. No one likes to be forced to do anything. Even though the court can force someone to attend a drug program, they cannot make them get anything out of it. Worse, someone who has been clean for awhile, such as in a drug program where their drug of choice just isn’t there, can easily overdose and die after their release. This is because the body has lost its protective tolerance during the time of forced treatment. The person gets out, uses their former dosage, doesn’t realize they can no longer safely take that much, and they die.

Also, family relationships may be forever destroyed by a Marchman. Resentment and feelings of betrayal and anger may persist for years, if not permanently.

There’s a better way.

Let us Help

Before taking such a drastic step as a Marchman, call us anytime at 833-497-3808. We’re trained drug counselors, and we may be able to help you avoid a Marchman by referring you to a skilled interventionist. Just because you have failed to convince your loved one to go to treatment doesn’t mean the interventionist will. It’s worth a try. We’re here for you anytime you need us.