What are your rights under the Baker Act?
Hello, everyone! Welcome to another edition of the drug and alcohol attorneys video newsletter. I’ve been getting a lot of calls recently about people who want to know what their rights are under the baker act. In this video, I will tell you what rights you potentially have and those you don’t. This is chapter 394, the Baker Act.
I could spend the next two hours boring you to death and telling you about your legal rights in this place, or you could go to Google and read about it. There’s a lot of information here, and it’s all jumbled up. I can tell you that I read the statute regularly, and I learn something new every time I do it. The documents here contain your statutory rights and some constitutional rights on how you can enforce, enact, or try to vacate a Baker Act.
Let me talk about reality, how it works on the ground, and what I consistently see when families call us about trying to get their loved ones out of a facility. You have two rights— number one is to basically do nothing and hope and pray that the facility either let your loved one out or a judge lets you out after conducting a hearing. Your second right is to try nip this thing in the bud is to take action immediately when your loved one gets taken under the Baker Act and seek court action to get them out.
In previous videos, I talked about the 72-hour window that gets abused all the time and is the best time to try and get your loved one out, especially if they have been victims of an unlawful or illegal Baker Act. The Baker Act’s whole point is that it’s an emergency stabilization statute, and it’s not designed for treatment. The state has up to 72 hours to stabilize your loved one. If they can’t do that, they are free to petition the court and ask a court for more time to stabilize you. This is where the abuse starts to kick in because in theory, your loved one could be held for up to six months. I can tell you I’ve seen it happen. I had a call about ten days ago from an individual committed to a state mental institution for six months. I asked him why didn’t he call me or why he didn’t reach out to a lawyer before this happened or had a hearing? He responded that the facility told him he was getting a court-appointed lawyer and didn’t need to do anything. Guess what? You know you get what you pay for, and I’m not insulting the lawyers representing people at these hearings, but I can tell you from experience. Most of them are overworked and underpaid and don’t have nearly enough time to prepare for hearings. What I’m telling you is if you want to get your loved one out, enforce your right to get them out before they get involuntarily committed for up to six months.
I have a ton of other content, other videos I’ve talked about the Baker Act. I’m always happy to speak to a family about getting a loved one out. Please reach out to us and let me know what I can do to help you. Thanks once again for tuning in.