At times, people with mental illnesses or substance use disorders may not be able to care for themselves or becoming a danger to themselves or to others. In these situations, it may become necessary to have a court order the person into treatment. The process of obtaining a court order for involuntary treatment is called the civil commitment process.
The civil commitment process has two main purposes: 1. To treat persons with mental illnesses or substance use disorders when they are unable or unwilling to seek treatment voluntarily 2. To protect the person with a mental illness or a substance use disorder and others from harm due to the illness.
The civil commitment process involves the legal system and can be confusing or intimidating for individuals with mental illnesses and their families. Civil commitment can be an emotionally difficult path to take and is a last resort, when nothing else has worked.
Generally speaking, there are eight major steps in the commitment process:
1. Peace or Health Officer hold to involuntary transport to a medical facility.
2. Emergency or 72 hour holds initiated by a health care professional.
3. Pre-petition screening completed by Lac qui Parle County Family Services screening team.
4. The petition, supported by the County Attorney Office.
5. The examination completed by a court appointed examiner.
6. The preliminary hearing, the respondent will be appointed a lawyer.
7. The commitment hearing, to be held within 14 days of the filing of the petition, but may be extended an additional 30 days.
8. Determining the result-If the judge decides that there is enough evidence, the person with a mental illness will be committed.
Contact Lac qui Parle County Family Services if you would like more information on the Civil Commitment Process or see below resources: