What is 1st appearance, and why does not happen in Baker Act cases?

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Hello, everyone. Its Mark and welcome back. In this video, I want to talk to you about a procedure or process known as first appearance and what it has to do or in this case, not has to do with the Baker Act so many years ago. And I apologize for aging my so many years ago. Back in the 90s when I was a very young prosecutor with the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office, I had the pleasure of doing first appearances on Saturdays, Sundays.

And if Monday was a holiday, I got to do it then, too. So the first appearance process occurs when somebody has been arrested for a crime and they have been detained by police and subsequently booked into the local county jail. And under the rules of procedure, if that person cannot post a bond, perhaps they just don’t have the funds to do it. Or it’s sort of the kind of crime such as a domestic battery where there is no scheduled bond. What it means is that within 24 hours of their detention of their arrest, they have to come before a judge.

And the judge does basically three things. Number one, makes a determination if there was probable cause for the arrest, because if there’s no probable cause, the case is over. Number two, determines if the person can afford cancel. In other words, if they don’t have the resources to afford the retention of a private lawyer, the public defender’s going to get appointed to represent them. And number three, the court is going to look at the issue of bond.

Right. The court is supposed to determine a reasonable bond. In other words, what’s reasonable under the circumstances based on the facts, the person’s history and things of that nature. So if you can imagine this, right. Somebody gets arrested, they get booked into the Palm Beach County Jail and they automatically, as a matter of law, get to see a judge within 24 hours so that the judge can determine if things were done correctly.

Now if we sort of flip the page and we look at the Baker Act situation, somebody gets Baker acted. Okay. They’ve not been alleged to have committed a crime. In fact, they are somebody who potentially was in distress. Right.

The whole idea of the Baker Act as it allows the state to take temporary custody of somebody in an emergency situation as it relates to a mental illness issue. So somebody can get Baker acted, they can be detained by the police. They get taken to a facility who continues the detention. And in theory, they may never see a judge. They may never, ever see a judge.

And how does that happen? Well, as I’ve said in past videos, there’s two way you can be detained under the Baker Act? Involuntarily and voluntarily. So why would somebody agree to stay voluntarily?

Well, sometimes they get coerced, they get threatened, and other times they just get flat out lied to and tricked and they signed documentation which might say, I consent to treatment or words to that effect. Or the facility says, listen, if you don’t sign this paperwork, you’re never going home. Or if you don’t sign this paperwork, we’ll get an order and you’ll get stuck here, the judge will determine that you can never go home and so they agree to stay voluntarily. And so what ends up happening if you’re voluntary is you don’t get to see a judge. Now, if you’re involuntary, in theory, under the statute, you can be detained for up to 72 hours, after which one of two things have to happen.

Well, after 72 hours, the facility is either supposed to let you go or they’re supposed to file a petition for involuntary replacement, Meaning a request, a court order to keep you. That court order can only be done at a hearing, right? And at that hearing, the judge will make a decision as to whether or not you get to stay or go home. Now, if you want to go home before the 72 hours is expired, before there’s a hearing and that hearing normally takes place four or five days after the petition has been filed, then you’ve got to fight to get out. You have to fight to get out.

Which is why, as I’m saying in this video and I’ve said in other videos, if you want to get out times of the essence, Because once the state and the facility is an agent of the state files to keep you, then there’s a chance you will get stuck for a significant period of time. So if your loved one has been Baker Acted, they’re not getting a first appearance. Unless, of course, somebody like me comes along and drags the facility into court and asked for a hearing on our petition. So with that said, I hope that sort of explains first appearance in the criminal setting and why there is no first appearance and why there’s no first appearance in the Baker Act situation. Frankly boggles my mind, but that’s a whole other conversation.

But you can see the risk of the Baker Act And the risk of not taking action as quickly as possible. So anyway, with that said, see you in the next video. Bye.

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