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What is a Baker Act?

Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes is known as "The Baker Act" and as "The Florida Mental Health
Act". A Baker Act proceeding is a means of providing an individual with emergency services and
temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment, either on a voluntary or involuntary

How are voluntary and involuntary Baker Act Admissions different?

A voluntary Baker Act is when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent or guardian of a person
age 17 or under, makes application for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis or treatment.

An involuntary Baker Act is when a person is taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination
when there is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness,
the person has refused voluntary examination; the person is unable to determine for himself or herself
whether examination is necessary and without care ortreatment, the person is likely to suffer from
neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or
her well being; and there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will
cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent

How is an involuntary Baker Act proceeding initiated?

  • A law enforcement officer may take a person who appears to meet thecriteria for
    involuntary examination into custody and deliver the person to the nearest receiving
    facility for an examination.
  • A physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker may
    execute a certificate that he or she has examined a person within the preceding
    48 hours and finds that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary
    examination. A law enforcement officer shall take the person named in the certificate
    to the nearest receiving facility for an examination.
  • A Court may enter an ex parte (on behalf of one party, without notice) order stating
    that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination. A law
    enforcement officer shall take the person into custody and deliver him or her for an
What steps must be taken to obtain an Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Examination?

The individual believed to be suffering from mental illness should be in Putnam County. If you are
willing to swear in a Petition for Involuntary Examination that you have personally witnessed an
individual causing harm to themselves or others, an Ex Parte Petition for Involuntary Examination can
be filed at the Clerk's Office, Circuit Civil Division.

Because paperwork must be processed, the petitioners should visit the Clerk's Office well before 5:00
p.m. The petitioners should bring a valid photo identification of themselves and should be prepared to
provide a specific address for the individual.

What is the procedure for filing the Petition and Affidavit Seeking ExParte Order Requiring Involuntary Examination?

A family member or interested person may fill out the petition and affidavit and file it with the Clerk's
Office, Circuit Civil Division. To obtain the petition contact:

Putnam Behavioral Health Care

330 Kay Larkin Drive

Palatka, FL 32177

(386) 329-3780

You will need to provide proper identification and have personally witnessed the individual's actions.

What happens after I file the Petition and Affidavit?

Your sworn affidavit will be reviewed by the Court. If the Court believes there is cause for action based
on the evidence provided in the petition and affidavit, the Judge will enter an order for the Sheriff to pick
up and transport the person to the nearest receiving facility. The person is examined at the facility and
the staff and doctors there determine any further action.

When will the order be served on the person?

The Sheriff will make every attempt to take the person into custody and transport the person to a facility.
If the person cannot be located by the Sheriff, the Sheriff will hold the order for seven (7) days and continue
attempts to take the person into custody.

How long will the order hold the person in a facility?

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.

What is the Marchman Act?

Chapter 397 of the Florida Statutes is known as the "Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services
Act of 1993".

It provides for the involuntary or voluntary assessment and stabilization of a person allegedly abusing
substances like drugs or alcohol, and provides for treatment of substance abuse. Any one family member
or three non-family members may file a petition for treatment of an individual.

The family or friends must make arrangements with a treatment facility prior to coming to our office to
complete a sworn petition stating the actions of this person and requesting a hearing. There is no filing

What is a voluntary Marchman Act admission?

A voluntary admission occurs when a person seeks treatment for substance abuse and applies to a
service provider to receive such treatment.

What is an involuntary admission for assessment and stabilization?

An involuntary admission occurs when there is good faith reason to believe the person is
substance abuse impaired, and because of such impairment:

  • the person has lost the power of self control with respect to substance use


  • the person has inflicted or attempted/threatened to inflict, or, unless admitted for
    treatment, is likely to inflict, physical harm to him/herself or another;


  • the person's judgment has been so impaired because of substance abuse that he/she
    is incapable of appreciating the need for substance abuse services and to make a
    rational decision regarding substance abuse services.
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