Florida’s Baker Act- Your Rights

by Bonner Law | Mar 04, 2021 | Firm News

When people are “Baker Acted,” it usually means they have been committed to a medical facility because they exhibited behavior that suggests they may be a threat to themselves or others. The Baker Act is the more common name for The Florida Mental Health Act which represents the Florida legislature’s efforts to provide necessary care and research for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Even though the Baker Act may seem daunting, it actually outlines many rights for individuals who are involuntarily evaluated and committed by healthcare facilities. Some of your rights under the Baker Act are:

  1. If you are admitted for an involuntary examination, you can only be held in the facility for an initial maximum of 72 hours. By the end of that period, the facility must do one of the four following things: (1) release you without any conditions; (2) release you to voluntary outpatient treatment; (3) request your consent for admittance into voluntary inpatient treatment; or (4) petition for involuntary placement in the Circuit Court when continued treatment is necessary, but you have refused consent.
  2. You have the right to an attorney at any period during your confinement.
  3. You have the right to file a request for a hearing on the involuntary confinement in the form of a writ of habeas corpus. Your lawyer can also file this request.
  4. You have to right to not be confined if there is evidence that family members or friends are willing to help prevent any apparent harm.
  5. You are allowed to receive, send, and mail sealed and unopened correspondence without inference from the facility. A facility can only interfere with your mail if they believe that it contains harmful substances, in which case they may only examine the mail.
  6. Your family members, guardians, advocates, representatives, and/or attorneys have the right to immediate access to you. If the facility deems access to other individuals would be to your detriment, they must communicate such restriction to you in writing. They are not allowed to restrict your access to visitors as a form of punishment.
  7. You still have the right to vote in primary and general elections if you are eligible during the course of your confinement.
  8. You have the right to your personal possessions and clothing. A facility may only take temporary custody of those items.

The Baker Act includes multiple restrictions on facilities when they elect to involuntarily commit someone. If you feel your rights under the Baker Act have been violated by a healthcare facility, please contact Michael P. Bonner, Esq. at mbonner@bonner-law.com or call us at 305-676-8800 for a free consultation.  Mr. Bonner is an attorney with thirty years of experience handling legal claims involving healthcare facilities.