A GUIDE TO MENTAL
HEALTH PROCEEDINGS (BAKER ACT)
What is a Baker
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
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
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
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 Leon 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. The
Clerk's Office will assist with the necessary paperwork.
Because paperwork has to be
processed, the petitioners should visit the Clerk's Office by
3:30 p.m. The petitioners should bring a valid photo
identification of themselves and should be prepared to provide a
specific address for the individual.
What happens after
the order is issued?
The order will be faxed to
the Warrants Division of the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, which
will take the person into custody and to a receiving facility.
The receiving facility generally utilized is the Apalachee
Center for Human Services located at 2634 Capital Circle N.E.,
Tallahassee, FL. 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?
If you have any questions
please call the Access Center at
800-539-4228. They will be happy to answer questions
you have regarding mental illness and drug and alcohol
If you are a person with a
disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate
in this proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the
provision of certain assistance. Please contact the Clerk’s
Office, Probate Division, Leon County Courthouse, Room 226, 301
South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301, (850) 577-4180; if
you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711 via the Florida