There are specific circumstances in which law enforcement, healthcare providers, and even family members believe someone is a risk to themselves or others. With the implementation of the Baker Act, it is possible to place those dealing with mental health conditions on a 72-hour 5150 or 5250 hold.
However, that does not mean that all involuntary holds are just. It is essential to ensure you protect your rights if you or someone you love has been detained on a hold under the Baker Act. The Simmrin Law Group is here to help you get the medical help you need, ensure your rights are not violated, and take back control of your life.
The Baker Act in California
The Baker Act is a California state law that allows individuals to be involuntarily committed if they are a threat or danger to the public or themselves. This law was created to ensure patients receive the best care available. However, it also stipulates that this involuntary hold can only last for a certain amount of time before a court order is necessary.
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When Can Someone Be Placed on an Involuntary Hold in CA?
Expert mental health professionals or law enforcement can hold an individual involuntarily. However, the process can be initiated by friends, family, and anyone else who believes that party threatens others or themselves. Involuntary holds can also be placed if an individual has a severe disability that prevents them from being able to provide their basic needs, including food, clothing, and shelter.
Generally, involuntary holds begin with a 5150 hold lasting up to 72 hours. Then, if the treatment facility believes the patient requires additional medical help, they can request a 5250 hold, extending the involuntary detainment by up to 14 days.
What to Expect When Taken in for Treatment
If you are taken in for treatment through a 5150 or 5250 hold, there are certain things you can expect. Healthcare providers will conduct an in-depth medical exam to determine whether you are suicidal, how your mental health condition affects you and your life, and what medical treatment is required. You may be required to agree to antipsychotic medications or other treatments, depending on the specific details of your case.
If healthcare providers decide you are a continued threat to yourself or others or are still incapable of caring for your physical or mental well-being, they can petition the court for a 5250 hearing. This will give them up to 14 days to get you the help you need, at which point an additional hearing will occur that determines whether a conservatorship is appropriate or necessary.
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You Have Rights When Placed on an Involuntary Hold
When placed on an involuntary hold, you have certain rights that cannot be denied under Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 5325.1. These rights include:
- The right to prompt medical treatment
- The right to humane care
- The right to dignity
- The right to be free from harm
- The right to be free from excessive medical restraint or medication abuse
- The right to be free from medication as a form of punishment
- The right to treatment that promotes independent function
- The right to informed consent
- The right to social interaction
- The right to religious freedom
- The right to recreational opportunities
- The right to physical exercise
- The right to participate in publicly supported education
- The right to a patient rights advocate
- The right to refuse psychosurgery
- The right to withhold consent
- The right to confidentiality
- The right to your medical records
- The right to refuse electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
- The right to an aftercare plan
- The right to notify your friends and family of your treatment and medical status
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Certain Rights Can Be Denied
Although certain rights cannot be denied, certain rights can be denied if the healthcare facility shows good cause. Your mental health treatment providers must document when your rights have been denied in your medical records and explain the reasons for the denial to you. Healthcare treatment facilities must review these denials and reinstate rights when no good cause exists.
What Is “Good Cause”?
For a patient to be denied their rights, there must be good cause. This means the healthcare professional in question must believe that allowing the patient to uphold their rights could:
- Be a severe threat to the healthcare treatment facility
- Endanger the patient or other patients
- Significantly infringe on the rights of others
Healthcare treatment facilities must find that no other restrictive measures can prevent these risks from occurring before rights can be denied. For example, if a patient throws food at another patient, staff members are not allowed to withhold food. Instead, they might deny a patient the right to social interaction.
Some examples of rights that psychiatric facilities could deny include one or more of the following:
- The right to retain possession of your money
- The right to your own clothing
- The right to visitors
- The right to storage space
- The right to maintain possession of personal items
- The right to reasonable and confidential phone calls
- The right to receive mail
- The right to let her writing materials and stamps
Remember, these rights can only be denied if there is good cause. If your rights have been denied and you believe the healthcare treatment facility did not have good cause, do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with your mental health lawyer to determine your next steps.
Get Help from a Mental Health Lawyer Today
The Baker Act is the law that makes it possible for healthcare providers and law enforcement officials to place an involuntary hold on someone they believe could be a severe risk to themselves or others. If you have been detained in a hold under the Baker Act, you still have rights.
Ensure you have legal representation for your 5250 certification review hearing. Contact an experienced mental health lawyer at the Simmrin Law Group to discuss your legal options. You can fill out our secured contact form or call our office to start working on your case today.
Call or text (310) 896-2723 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form