What is the State Attorney’s Office involvement in Baker Act cases?
Hello, everyone. Its Mark and welcome back. In this video, I want to talk to you about the Baker Act and the state Attorney’s office. So what does the state Attorney’s office, which is an office, an agent of the state that prosecutes crimes, what does the state Attorney’s office have to do with the Baker Act? And that’s a great question.
It really is. As a former assistant state attorney, a proud former assistant state attorney from here in Palm Beach County, I’m actually pleased the question was asked. It’s a really great question. So let’s talk about that. So as I’ve said in other videos, there are two ways that you can be detained at the bakery facility voluntarily and involuntarily.
Now, if you’re voluntary, what does that mean? It means that you’ve agreed to stay. And people say, well, Mark, why would anybody agree to stay? Well, sometimes people agree to stay because they get tricked into staying. They sign a document which is consent to treatment.
Or the facility says, listen, if you don’t sign this document, guess what? You’re never going home. Or if you don’t sign this document, we’re going to go to the judge and the judge is going to give us a court order and you’re never going to get out of here. That’s how sometimes somebody can be voluntary. Right?
Or sometimes people go to the hospital and they are just looking for some help and the hospital says, well, look, if you’ll agree to treatment, we’ll have a psychiatrist come down here and quote, check you out. Right. So that’s voluntary. If somebody is involuntary, meaning they’re being detained against their will. And there’s a number of ways you could become involuntary, then the facility can legally hold you if you meet criteria.
And that’s a big if you meet Baker Act criteria, you can legally be held for up to not four, but up to 72 hours. So it’s not a windfall for the facility, although more often than not, it’s treated as such. Right. You can be held up to 72 hours now once 72 hours expires. Right.
One of two things are supposed to happen. And I say supposed to because the problem with the bankruptcy is there’s no oversight, meaning nobody is watching these facilities and making sure they do things correctly. But let’s presume for the sake of this video that they actually do it. Right. At the end of 70 trials, one of two things must happen.
Either one, you should be released. Or two, the facility has to file a petition for involuntary placement. And actually, I’m going to give you one other little scenario that’s not often talked about. But in theory, the facility can ask you to go voluntary. Okay.
And I’m trying not to confuse you. So for sake of this video, there’s two options, right? Either they let you go. Well, they filed a petition for involuntary placement. Once that petition is filed, a hearing.
A placement hearing must take place within five days. So if the facility just wants to keep you another four or five days and comply with the statute, even if they have no intention of going forward with the hearing, they automatically get another four or five days and then a hearing takes place. What does that hearing look like? Well, that’s when the state Attorney’s office steps in, because don’t forget, the Baker Act is a statute that authorizes the state of Florida to take custody of you, not when you’ve committed a crime or you’ve done something wrong, but when you are alleged to be suffering from some type of mental illness, which results in you presenting as a danger to yourself and or somebody else, in other words, you’re suicidal, potentially suicidal, allegedly suicidal, and all of that good stuff. But at that hearing, which is going to be prosecuted by the state Attorney’s office, there’s also going to be a judge, and there’s also going to be a defense lawyer.
Now, typically, the public defender is automatically appointed by the court. If you want private counsel, of course, you can hire a private lawyer. We do these hearings every once in a while when we are required to be there. But this case is treated as if it was a criminal case. Prosecutor, defense lawyer, judge.
Okay. The only difference between the Baker Act hearing and a criminal case is that a criminal case. Right. It’s open to the public with very small exceptions. And I can tell you that as a young law student back in the 90s, early ninety s, I used to go watch a lot of court because I wanted to try cases.
And I think Friday was the day I had no class. I’d spend all day just watching trials. It was really fascinating stuff, which is why if you go on Call TV, you can watch most of these trials. Right. That’s why OJ was public.
Right. That’s why this Amber Heard Johnny Depp case is public, because general those cases, the court proceedings are open to the public. But the Baker Act proceedings where you haven’t done anything wrong, you’re not a criminal. They’re not open to the public. In fact, they’re done in secrecy under the guys that are confidential, which means that if you’re a member of the general public, you don’t get to go and see if these things are done right.
And here’s the state prosecuting you. You haven’t done anything wrong. And that’s how this whole thing works. And so, yes, the state Attorney’s office gets involved. And I’m going to give you one other caveat.
As a general rule, the state Attorney’s office does not get involved unless the facility files a petition for involuntary placement. But there are a couple of counties that as soon as I file my petition to get somebody out, the state Attorney’s office wants to be involved. They want to know what’s going on. And actually, I think that’s a good thing because at least means that the state Attorney’s office is making sure that the facility who is also an agent of the state is doing things correctly. And so I’m grateful for those state Attorney’s office that do get involved that early of the case.
In any event that’s the involvement of the state Attorney’s office in these Baker Act cases. And with that said, I’ll see you in the next video. Bye.