Baker Act

The Baker Act encourages the voluntary admission of persons for psychiatric care, but only when they are able to understand the decision and its consequences and are able to fully exercise their rights for themselves. When this is not possible due to the severity of the person’s condition, the law requires that the person be extended the due process rights assured under the involuntary provisions of the Baker Act. Criteria A person may be taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination if the following three criteria are met:

Baker Act Florida

1. There is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill. This means an impairment of the mental or emotional processes that exercise conscious control of one’s actions or of the ability to perceive or understand reality, which impairment substantially interferes with a person’s ability to meet the ordinary demands of living, regardless of etiology. For the purposes of this part, the term does not include retardation or developmental disability as defined in Chapter 393, intoxication, or conditions manifested only by antisocial behavior or substance abuse impairment.

2. 2. Because of his or her mental illness the person has refused voluntary examination or is unable to determine whether the examination is necessary; and

3. 3. Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect resulting in the real and present threat of substantial harm that can’t be avoided through the help of others; or there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to self or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.

Initiation An involuntary examination may be initiated by any one of the three following means:

A circuit court may enter an ex-parte order, based upon sworn testimony, directing a law enforcement officer to take the person to the nearest Baker Act Involuntary Examination: Criteria, Processes and Time-frames State of Florida Department of Children and Families Mental Health Program Office Florida’s Baker Act Website – May 2002 2 receiving facility. A law enforcement officer may serve and execute an ex-parte order on any day of the week, at any time of the day or night, and may use such reasonable physical force as is necessary to gain entry to take custody of the person.

A law enforcement officer shall take a person who appears to meet the above criteria into custody and deliver the person to the nearest receiving facility.

A physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker, each as defined in the statute, may execute a certificate stating 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 and stating the observations upon which that conclusion is based.

c. A law enforcement officer shall take the person into custody and deliver him or her to the nearest receiving.