Colorado, 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. The state authorizes both inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (community) treatment, which is known in Colorado as "court-ordered outpatient treatment."



  • For either inpatient or outpatient care, COLO. REV. STAT. § 27-65-111(1) establishes that the following criteria be met:
  1. The court or jury shall determine that the respondent is in need of care and treatment only if the court or jury finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person has a mental illness and, as a result of such mental illness, is a danger to others or to himself or herself or is gravely disabled.

    COLO. REV. STAT. § 27-65-102(9)
    (a) "Gravely disabled" means a condition in which a person, as a result of mental illness:
           (I) Is in danger of serious physical harm due to his or her inability or failure to provide himself or herself 
                with the essential human needs of food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; or  
           (II) Lacks judgment in the management of his or her resources and in the conduct of his or her social 
                relations to the extent that his or her health or safety is significantly endangered and lacks the capacity to 
                understand that this is so.
    (b) A person who, because of care provided by a family member or by an individual with a similar 
    relationship to the person, is not in danger of serious physical harm or is not significantly endangered in 
    accordance with paragraph (a) of this subsection (9) may be deemed "gravely disabled" if there is notice 
    given that the support given by the family member or other individual who has a similar relationship to the 
    person is to be terminated and the individual with a mental illness:
           (I) Is diagnosed by a professional person as suffering from: Schizophrenia; a major affective disorder; a 
                delusional disorder; or another mental disorder with psychotic features; and
           (II) Has been certified, pursuant to this article, for treatment of the disorder or has been admitted as an 
                 inpatient to a treatment facility for treatment of the disorder at least twice during the last thirty-six months 
                with a period of at least thirty days between certifications or admissions; and
           (III) Is exhibiting a deteriorating course leading toward danger to self or others or toward the conditions 
                 described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (9) with symptoms and behavior that are substantially similar 
                 to those that preceded and were associated with his or her hospital admissions or certifications for 
                 treatment; and
           (IV) Is not receiving treatment that is essential for his or her health or safety.
    (c) A person of any age may be “gravely disabled”, but such term shall not include a person who has a 
    developmental disability by reason of the person‟s developmental disability alone.
    (d) For purposes of paragraph (b) of this subsection (9), an individual with a relationship to a person that 
    is similar to that of a family member shall not include an employee or agent of a boarding home or 
    treatment facility.

State standards for emergency hospitalization for evaluation and state-by-state information on initiating emergency hospitalization and assisted inpatient or outpatient treatment can be found from our Civil Commitment Laws and Standards page. 


Colorado Resources:

NAMI Arapahoe/Douglas Counties has prepared an excellent resource guide entitled: "Involuntary Commitment and Emergency Services in our Community of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties for Persons Who are Gravely Disabled."

Visit Get Help for tools and information about preparing for and handling a psychiatric crisis.

Visit Get Involved for information about how you can help bring down barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness.


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