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Why do I continue refusing to Baker Act your loved one?

Hello, everyone! It’s Mark, and welcome back.

In this video, I want to talk to you about the Baker Act and why I refuse to Baker Act your loved one.

Over the last year, especially since COVID came along, we’ve been getting a lot of calls asking us to Baker Act their loved ones, and every time they call, I say no. I’m not going to Baker Act your loved one, and I want to talk about why I’m not going to do that and what you should be looking to do.

If your loved one has an emergency, the first thing you should do is call 911 and ask them to send over help, whether they send the police, the paramedics, or both. If your loved one is in immediate crisis and you need emergency medical attention, then you need to call 911 and ask for help. That’s the whole purpose of 911. You can also call 211, which is the suicide hotline, and ask for help there, but I’m not going to Baker Act your loved one because when your loved one gets Baker acted, what’s really happening is, the state of Florida is taking care, custody, and control of your loved one. The state can take custody of your loved one, one of two ways, they take custody of your loved one by placing them in the criminal justice system, or they get baker-acted and take custody of them by putting them in the state mental health system.

If you’ve looked at any of the videos on our website, I’ve talked about the abuses of the Baker Act. I’ve also talked about the fact that it’s a very useful tool. It’s a life-saving tool when it’s used appropriately, and when someone’s having an emergency due to some mental health issue, not only do we empower the state to take custody of them to deal with the issue. Frankly, I think it’s the best thing that can be done. Let the state take custody of them because they can move the fastest. After all, they have the resources to do it. They can send over the police and the paramedics.

You don’t have time to run to the courthouse, so the state is going to authorize their agents like the police to come over and Baker Act the loved one for you, and it’s a great tool when it’s used appropriately. But if you’re calling me because you’re looking to get your loved one into treatment and someone has told you that the Baker Act is a tool to do that, I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

The Baker Act is not a treatment statute. It is a statute intended for emergency stabilization only, and if you Baker Act your loved one, there are one of two things that will happen. Either they’re going to get released somewhere between zero and 72 hours after they’ve been taken, and 72 hours will not do anything for them; they probably come out worse. The other one is that the state that has authorized the Baker Act receiving facility to act as their agent will file a petition for involuntary placement, and they’re going to keep your loved one. They’re going to make your loved one a ward of the state, which means they can, in theory, get a court order to keep them for up to six months. That six-month period can be repeated, and during that period of time, you’re not going to have any say whatsoever in what happens to your loved one. So if you think that by Baker Acting, you’re going to get them to help, unless it’s an emergency, don’t Baker Act them. Don’t go to the courthouse and file the petition for placement because you may never get them back. Don’t ask the police officer to act as a social worker and Baker Act your loved one because you haven’t taken steps to get the treatment.

This is not a finger-pointing exercise to say that families haven’t done their job, that you haven’t taken responsibility, but I get a lot of calls from people and they’re asking me to Baker Act their loved one when what they should be asking for is either a Marchman Act or a guardianship. Both of those filings, which we can do for you and which we do a lot of for families all over the state of Florida or even outside of the state, as long as a loved one is here, then we can Marchman Act or Baker Act them, and those are great tools. Why? Because it allows you to stay in control of the situation and hopefully get your loved one the help they need so that they at some point regain the ability to make rational decisions. I sort of hate to beat a dead horse here but don’t Baker Act at your loved one unless it’s an emergency, in which case you should be calling 911.

If you want to talk to us about the other tools that we have that can help you, whether the Marchman Act or guardianship, I’m here to help you.

With that said, thanks for tuning in. See you in the next video.

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