Involuntary Services

For almost all cases, the Petition and Request for Assessment and Stabilization is followed by the filing of a Services Petition.

For almost all cases, the Petition and Request for Assessment and Stabilization is followed by the filing of a Services Petition. This is because the Petition and Request for Assessment and Stabilization is not enough to see long term results from the respondent. An Involuntary Services Petition seeks the respondent ordered to comply with long term treatment recommendation. The court is generally not concerned with the level of care or the location of treatment. The courts concern is focused on the respondent’s compliance.

Where Do I Need To File My Services 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 legal guardian, any relative, a service provider, or any adult who has direct personal knowledge of the respondent’s substance abuse impairment and his or her prior course of assessment and treatment. If the person upon whose behalf the petition is being filed is a minor, a petition for involuntary services may be filed by a parent, legal guardian, or service provider.
What Information Do I Need For The Services Petition?
A petition for involuntary services must contain the name of the respondent to be admitted; the name of the petitioner or petitioners; the relationship between the respondent and the petitioner; the name of the respondent’s attorney, if known, the findings and recommendations of the assessment performed by the qualified professional; and the factual allegations presented by the petitioner establishing the need for involuntary treatment, including:
  • The reason for the petitioner’s belief that the respondent is substance abuse impaired;
  • The reason for the petitioner’s belief that because of such impairment the respondent has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse; and
  • The reason the petitioner believes that the respondent has inflicted or is likely to inflict physical harm on himself or herself or others unless the court orders the involuntary services; or
  • The reason the petitioner believes that the respondent’s refusal to voluntarily receive care is based on judgment so impaired by reason of substance abuse that the respondent is incapable of appreciating his or her need for care and of making a rational decision regarding that need for care.
What Happens At The Hearing?
Upon the filing of a petition for the involuntary services of a substance abuse impaired person with the clerk of the court, the court shall immediately determine whether the respondent is represented by an attorney or whether the appointment of counsel for the respondent is appropriate. The court shall schedule a hearing to be held on the petition within 5 days. A copy of the petition and notice of the hearing must be provided to the respondent; the respondent’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian, in the case of a minor; the respondent’s attorney, if known; the petitioner; the respondent’s spouse or guardian, if applicable; and such other persons as the court may direct, and have such petition and order personally delivered to the respondent if he or she is a minor. The court shall also issue a summons to the person whose admission is sought. If the respondent is not served with the pleadings by the time of hearing the court cannot move forward. Unlike an ex parte petition for assessment and stabilization, a petition for services cannot be heard unless the respondent has been served.
What Does It Mean When The Court Orders Services?
If the court orders treatment, the order will be in place for a minimum period of up to ninety (90) days. If the respondent voluntarily enters treatment prior to the treatment petition being granted the court will often dismiss the Petition. An experienced attorney will know who to avoid this pitfall and still seek the entry of the court order. A petitioner should still try to get the order for services even if the respondent has entered treatment before the hearing as the order will help to ensure that the respondent will stay and be compliant. If the respondent is willfully non-compliant in any way with treatment, a petitioner can file a motion with the court and bring the respondent before the Judge for violating the court ordered treatment and seek sanctions. Generally, if this occurs, the judge will have a hearing, and if proven, give the respondent one more opportunity to return to treatment and comply with the court order to avoid their incarceration. If the respondent has yet to completely comply with the court order, and has failed to appear at the hearing, they can be found in civil contempt and possibly incarcerated until they are ready to return to treatment. It is important to note, serving time for contempt does not invalidate the existence or duration of the original order for treatment. The respondent must continue treatment pursuant to the original order subsequent to being released from custody.
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