North Carolina, 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 North Carolina as "outpatient commitment." It is one of the 27 states whose involuntary treatment standard is based on a person’s “need for treatment” rather than only the person’s likelihood of being dangerous to self or others.
For inpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:
- be a danger to self/others/property. Explicitly includes reasonable probability of suffering serious physical debilitation from the inability to, without assistance, either exercise self-control, judgment, and discretion in conduct and social relations; OR
- satisfy need for nourishment, personal or medical care, shelter, or self-protection and safety.
For outpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:
- be capable of surviving safely in community with available supervision;
- be in need of treatment to prevent further deterioration predictably resulting in dangerousness, and
- be unable to make informed decision to seek/comply with voluntary 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.
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