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California

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Senate President Steinberg commits to focus on mental illness, specifically how to expand Laura's Law. Click here to read more. 

Visit our Laura's Law page to read more about California's assisted outpatient treatment law. 

California, like every state, has its own civil commitment laws that establish criteria for determining when court-ordered treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who are too ill to seek care voluntarily.

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California's law allows court-ordered treatment in the community, often called “assisted outpatient treatment” or “outpatient commitment,” but only in counties that have passed a resolution to implement Laura's Law.   

In California:       

  • State law establishes civil commitment procedures and standards for court-ordered treatment in an inpatient (hospital) or outpatient (community) setting.
  • California still uses a treatment standard based primarily on a person’s likelihood of being dangerous instead of using a more progressive “need for treatment” standard as in many states.    
To get court-ordered treatment for a loved one:           
  • For inpatient care, there must be (1) a danger to self/others or (2) inability to provide for basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter.
  • For outpatient care in counties that have adopted Laura’s Law, the individual must have a condition likely to substantially deteriorate; be unlikely to survive safely in community without supervision; have a history of noncompliance that includes two hospitalizations in past 36 months;act/threaten/attempt of violence to self/others in 48 months immediately preceding petition filing; be likely to need treatment to prevent meeting inpatient standard; be likely to benefit from assisted treatment.
  • For outpatient care in counties that have not implemented Laura's Law, there currently is no legal mechanism.

To read the California state standard for civil commitment, consult our "State Standards for Assisted Treatment." California statute appears on page 6. To see a chart that summarizes and compares state laws nationwide, click here.  

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    A Report by the LPS Reform Task Force

    A New Vision For Mental Health Treatment Laws report was published in 1999. The New Vision report includes recommendations of revision to the LPS Act that are the results of three years of study. In addition to the recommendations, briefing papers have been prepared on the major mental illnesses, medication advances, the consequences of lack of treatment, the current legal system, treatment issues and a history of the implementation of the LPS Act itself. The focus of this report is the involuntary treatment law as it pertains to adults with severe persistent mental illness.

    Click here to read the full report>>