Florida, like every state, has its own civil commitment laws and standards establishing the criteria that must be met before an individual can be ordered into involuntary treatment in the hospital or in the community for symptoms of severe mental illness. The Florida Mental Health Act authorizes both inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (community) treatment, which was termed "involuntary outpatient placement" in the Baker Act reform legislation that made Florida the 43rd state with assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) . Florida 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.
A person may be placed in involuntary inpatient treatment under a court finding of clear and convincing evidence that mental illness is present and that because of the mental illness, the individual:
- is unable or refuses to make responsible decisions with respect to voluntary placement for treatment AND either
- without treatment, be incapable of surviving alone or with the help of willing family or friends, or be likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself/herself in a manner that will pose a real and present threat of substantial harm to well-being; OR
- be a danger to self/others, as evidenced by recent behavior
For outpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:
- be unlikely to survive safely in community without supervision;
- have a history of noncompliance that includes two hospitalizations in past 36 months; or
- act/threaten/attempt violence to self/others in 36 months immediately preceding petition filing;
- be unlikely to voluntarily participate;
- be in need of intervention in order to prevent relapse or deterioration likely to result in serious harm to self/others;
- and likely to benefit from assisted treatment
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.
Visit Get Help for tools and information about preparing for and handling a psychiatric crisis.
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