Assessment And Stabilization

The process begins by filing a Petition and Request for Assessment and Stabilization.

The Petition and Request for Assessment and Stabilization, as well as other forms, can be found in the DCF Marchman Act Handbook. Also, the clerk of the court in the county where the petitioner seeks to file typically has the most current updated forms.

Who Can File The Petition
The Petition must be filed in the County where the respondent is physically located. Residency is NOT a requirement. If the person upon whose behalf the petition is being filed is an adult, a petition for involuntary assessment and stabilization may be filed by the respondent’s spouse or guardian, any relative, a private practitioner, the director of a licensed service provider or the director’s designee, or any adult who has direct personal knowledge of the respondent’s substance abuse impairment. If the person upon whose behalf the petition is being filed is a minor, a petition for involuntary assessment and stabilization may be filed by a parent, legal guardian, legal custodian, or licensed service provider.
What Is The Criteria For Involuntary Admission?
A person meets the criteria for involuntary admission if there is good faith reason to believe that the person is substance abuse impaired or has a co-occurring mental health disorder and, because of such impairment or disorder:
  • Has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse; and
  • Is in need of substance abuse services and, by reason of substance abuse impairment, his or her judgment has been so impaired that he or she is incapable of appreciating his or her need for such services and of making a rational decision in that regard, although mere refusal to receive such services does not constitute evidence of lack of judgment with respect to his or her need for such services; or
  • Without care or treatment, is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself; that such neglect or refusal poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being; and that it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services, or there is substantial likelihood that the person has inflicted, or threatened to or attempted to inflict, or, unless admitted, is likely to inflict, physical harm on himself, herself, or another.
How Does The Court Review My Petition?
The court reviews this petition in one of two ways; the first being through an actual hearing before the court. The other option allows the court to review the petition through an Ex Parte process in which the respondent is unaware of the Petition and Request for Assessment and Stabilization. This process, most successfully implemented through an attorney, is an important and strategic aspect because most substance abusers choose not to voluntarily go to court and detox. However, there are other strategic benefits to have the respondent appear in court for the first hearing if there is a high probability that they will appear. Either way the court must hold a hearing or make the ex parte decision within ten days of the petition being filed. Most Courts will execute the ex parte petition in a much more-timely manner; typically, within 24hours. Also, presently the majority of counties in Florida handle almost all assessment and stabilization hearings on an exparte basis. An attorney can specifically request otherwise if necessary.
How Does My Loved One Get To Detox?
Once the court has reviewed the petition, the respondent, after an in-person court hearing, may be court ordered to immediately go to a facility that has been pre-determined for completion of the assessment and stabilization (detox). If the court decides based on the pleadings alone (Ex-parte), the order will direct that the respondent be picked up and delivered by law enforcement to the nearest facility as ordered by the court. In some counties, the petitioner can request the respondent’s delivery after pickup to a private detox if payment arrangements have been made. The choice of which method will be employed by a petitioner representing themselves is typically not in their hands and is left to the court. The process differs from county to county. However, an experienced Marchman Act attorney can choose either method regardless of the county where the petition is filed and based on the strategy decided to be employed. Once the respondent is in the detox facility, the treatment providers will render their assessment as ordered by the court. A respondent will be admitted for a period of five days. Should the provider be unable to complete the assessment or stabilization within the five-day period an extension for more time may be filed and requested with the court. Also, the five day period can be extended by the filing of a Services Petition and a respondent can be held until further order of the court. The provider will then have a recommendation for treatment ready to be tendered to the court. It should be noted, not all private detox facilities will render an assessment and recommendation for the court. The petitioner should inquire from the private detox provider as to whether they will render the assessment and come to court to testify if need be. Under the Marchman Act a respondent can be ordered to either a private or public detox facility. Unless the facility has been designated as a “secure” facility as defined in the statute and licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services a respondent does have the ability to simply leave prior to the completion of the assessment and stabilization. There are only several “secure” licensed receiving facilities in Florida. Should the respondent leave and not comply with the court order they will then be exposing themselves to the consequence of incarceration via the court’s contempt power. Again, it should be noted that neither a petitioner, an attorney, the respondent, nor court officials can dictate the level of care and treatment or type of treatment the loved one in question will receive. The trained medical professionals provide their treatment recommendation and decide the level of care based on the individual aspects of your loved one’s needs. Typically, treatment can be ordered through any of the following types: Outpatient Treatment, Day-treatment, Intensive Outpatient Treatment and/or Residential Treatment. It is the obligation of the petitioner, or their attorney, to enforce the order of the court upon the respondent. If the respondent does not comply with the court’s order, a Motion seeking for the respondent to be held in contempt of court must be filed and served upon the respondent.
I think I know someone who needs help.