February 27, 2015     
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Court Services - Baker Act

Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes is known as "The Baker Act" and as "The Florida Mental Health Act". A Baker Act proceeding is a means of providing an individual with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment, either on a voluntary or involuntary basis.

A voluntary Baker Act admission occurs when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent of a minor, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis, and treatment.

An involuntary Baker Act admission occurs upon a finding by a court that (1) a person is mentally ill and, because of the mental illness, he/she has refused voluntary placement for treatment or is unable to determine whether placement is necessary; (2) he/she is incapable of living alone or with help, and without treatment is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for him/herself, or there is a substantial likelihood in the near future that he/she will inflict serious bodily harm on him/herself/others as evidenced by recent behavior; and (3) all less restrictive treatment alternatives are not appropriate.



Contact Information

Probate / Mental Health / Guardianship

Telephone: (850) 595-4300   
OFFICE LOCATION

Room 23009 - Second Floor
190 W Government St
Pensacola, Florida  32502
(map)
MAILING ADDRESS
Clerk of the Circuit Court
Probate Division
P.O. Box 333
Pensacola, Florida  32591-0333


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Baker Act proceeding?
Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes is known as "The Baker Act" and as "The Florida Mental Health Act". A Baker Act proceeding is a means of providing an individual with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment, either on a voluntary or involuntary basis.


How are voluntary and involuntary Baker Act admissions different?
A voluntary Baker Act admission occurs when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent of a minor, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis, and treatment.

An involuntary Baker Act admission occurs upon a finding by a court that (1) a person is mentally ill and, because of the mental illness, he/she has refused voluntary placement for treatment or is unable to determine whether placement is necessary; (2) he/she is incapable of living alone or with help, and without treatment is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for him/herself, or there is a substantial likelihood in the near future that he/she will inflict serious bodily harm on him/herself/others as evidenced by recent behavior; and (3) all less restrictive treatment alternatives are not appropriate.


How is an involuntary Baker Act proceeding initiated?
A. A law enforcement officer may take a person who appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination into custody and deliver the person to the nearest receiving facility for an examination.

B. A physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker may execute a certificate that he or she has examined a person within the preceding 48 hours and finds that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination. A law enforcement officer shall take the person named in the certificate to the nearest receiving facility for an examination.

C. A court may enter an ex parte (on behalf of one party, without notice) order stating that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination. A law enforcement officer shall take the person into custody and deliver him or her for an examination.


What steps must be taken to obtain an ex parte order?
A person who has personal knowledge of the behavior of the individual, should give sworn testimony. The individual believed to be suffering from mental illness should be in Escambia County. The petitioner(s) must have observed the behavior and must have talked to the individual about obtaining a voluntary examination within a few days.  In Escambia County, Baptist Hospital Lakeview Center , located at 1221 W Lakeview Ave, Pensacola, Florida, will initiate and assist with the paperwork.


What happens after the order is issued?
The order will be sent to the Warrants Division of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, which will take the person into custody and to a receiving facility. Receiving Facilities for our area can be found in this list provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families. The person is examined at the facility and the staff and doctors there determine any further action.


How long may a person be held under an ex parte Baker Act order?
A person may not be held for more than 72 hours.


Where can I find more information about the Baker Act?
Florida’s Baker Act Law is located in Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes.




Forms

NOTE: The forms supplied by the Clerk's office are general in nature and may not meet your specific needs. The Clerk does not guarantee the legal sufficiency of these forms; therefore, you may need to consult with an attorney regarding your particular situation.



Related Resources


NOTE: Most of the "Related Resource" links above are not maintained by the Clerk.