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If my loved one is being illegally held under the Baker Act can I file my own Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus?

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another edition of our video newsletter.

In this video, I want to talk to you about the idea of filing your petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus when your loved one has been illegally baker acted, and stuck in a facility.

I get a number of families who call me and say, “Mark, why should I pay you to do this? I can go and file my petition for Habeas Corpus.” Know that you can, but let me share my experience with you and how well or not that typically goes. So, the form that the facility will provide you will be about two pages long, and you’ll have a little space to fill in the facts you’re alleging to support your claim for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

First of all, to do that, you’re going to need to be familiar with Chapter 394, also known as the Baker Act, which is about 185 pages long. This document here is chapter 394 and is the Baker Act statute. You need to be familiar with that before you can even start making allegations.

There are a couple of things that can happen. Number one, if the facility bothers even to file it with a court. I’ve seen when they didn’t file it with the court, and they just reviewed it internally and decided that they are not going to grant it. I’ve also seen when they did actually submit it to a court, and the court grants a hearing. If you’re not yet familiar, these cases are treated very much like a criminal case, except it’s all done in secret. If you get to a hearing, there’s going to be a table where a judge or magistrate is going to be sitting. There will also be a prosecutor and a public defender, just like in a criminal case. What will happen is, since your loved one is in the care, custody, and control of the state, there will be a prosecutor to represent the state. The prosecutor is going to put on their witness, which is going to be one of the psychiatrists who have made these allegations that your loved one meets the criteria. They’re going to present their testimony, and then the judge or magistrate will allow them to cross-examine the witness. You will be sitting there and asking, how do I challenge the statements made by the psychiatrist that my loved one meets the criteria? How do I cross-examine them? How do I comply with the rules of procedure? How do I even establish that my loved one doesn’t meet the criteria that are established within the Baker Act? So when families say that they are going to do their own Habeas, I say “Okay, you can do that. But I want you to understand the pitfalls and how difficult it is to do that.”

Now, I’m going to show you what my typical petition for Habeas Corpus looks like. This is a case that we filed and won. For privacy purposes, I’ve removed the names of the involved people. This document here is ten pages long. That’s a typical petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus that I follow. Sometimes they’re a little bit shorter and sometimes they can be a whole lot longer depending on the facts and the allegations that we’re making. One of the reasons you hire somebody like me who understands how the Baker Act works is because I’m going to establish that your loved one never met the criteria and shouldn’t have been taken in the first place. So obviously, there’s a much greater chance of me getting your loved one out.

As a lawyer, I’m ethically prohibited by the Florida bar from making guarantees, and I can tell you have great success with these petitions. Once in a while, maybe one out of ten cases goes to a hearing. I’ve been a lawyer for 27 years and know how to cross-examine an expert witness. I know how to cross-examine a psychiatrist. I know if we even need to present our witnesses and those are the reasons you may want to consider hiring us—to help you with this petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.

With that said, if you have any questions about the Baker Act, feel free to reach out to us and send us an email. You can reach me at and you can call us at 855-429-0074. If you go to the website, there is a frequently asked questions section where I put out videos just like this one so that people like you can get the information you need.

Nice to talk to you. Take care, be safe, and be well. Bye!

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