Involuntary Civil Commitments
INVOLUNTARY CIVIL COMMITMENTS
Involuntary commitment is a legal procedure by which a person is placed in the custody of the State Department of Mental Health for evaluation and treatment. This is done only if necessary, and after every effort is made to provide treatment on a voluntary basis. In order to meet the criteria for involuntary commitment, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the person is mentally ill and poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to self or others. Other required elements are that the person is unable to make a rational decision regarding the need for treatment, and without such treatment, he/she will continue to suffer mental distress. The evidence brought forth by the petitioner must include personal knowledge of specific acts or behavior which signifies a real or present danger.
The purpose of involuntary commitment is to provide psychiatric treatment for mentally ill individuals who have become a danger to themselves or others and are refusing voluntary treatment. However, the Court is ever mindful of the serious deprivation of liberty which this process necessarily involves. The due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to all citizens, whether mentally ill or not, and every effort is made to ensure threat rights are not compromised and unnecessary treatment is never tolerated. The Probate Judge will always take the least restrictive measures to get help for a person with mental illness.