The Thin Line: Understanding Involuntary Commitment in Texas

What Is Involuntary Commitment In Texas?

Involuntary commitment, also known as civil commitment, describes the legal process that court-orders individuals with symptoms of severe mental illness into treatment in a hospital or community setting. The specifics of these laws differ across states. In Texas, the Texas Health and Safety Code governs the process for involuntary commitment.

Criteria For Commitment

In Texas, an individual can be involuntarily committed if they are mentally ill, and pose a substantial risk of serious harm to themselves or others. Or are suffering severe and abnormal mental, emotional, or physical distress and cannot make a rational decision regarding their need for treatment.

Emergency Detention

A peace officer or a physician can detain a person for a short period without a court order if the person poses an immediate threat to themselves or others.

Application for Court-Ordered Treatment

If longer-term treatment becomes necessary, a physician, peace officer, or mental health professional must file an application for court-ordered treatment with the county court.

Court Hearing

“After filing the application, we schedule a court hearing. The individual has the right to legal representation, and if they cannot afford one, we will appoint an attorney for them. During the hearing, we present evidence, and the judge determines whether the individual meets the criteria for involuntary commitment.”

Duration of Commitment

If the judge determines that the individual meets the criteria, the judge can order them to inpatient treatment for up to 90 days initially. If necessary, we can extend the commitment, but each extension requires a new court hearing.

Rights of the Individual

Individuals who are involuntarily committed maintain certain rights, including the right to receive information about the reasons for their detention, the right to legal representation, the right to communicate with others, and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.


An individual can leave involuntary commitment once they no longer meet the criteria, a decision typically made by the treating physician.

It’s important to note that the goal of involuntary commitment is to ensure the safety of the individual and the public while providing necessary mental health treatment. The process is designed to balance the individual’s rights with the requirement for treatment and safety.

If you need more detailed or up-to-date information on this topic, I can look it up for you. Would you like me to do that?

Involuntary commitment in Texas describes the legal process that court-orders individuals believed to be suffering from mental illness to receive mental health services. The Texas Health and Safety Code, specifically Chapter 574, which deals with court-ordered mental health services, governs this process.

Application for Court-Ordered Mental Health Services (Sec. 574.001)

A county or district attorney or another adult can file a sworn written application for court-ordered mental health services.

You must file the application with the county clerk in the county where the proposed patient resides, is found, or is receiving mental health services by court order.

If you do not file the application in the county of the proposed patient’s residence, you can transfer it to that county if you show good cause.

Form of Application (Sec. 574.002)

The application must be styled using the proposed patient’s initials, not their full name.

It must state whether the application is for temporary or extended mental health services. For extended inpatient services, it must state that the person has received court-ordered inpatient services for at least 60 consecutive days in the preceding 12 months.

The application must include specific information, such as the proposed patient’s name, address, county of residence, a statement indicating their mental illness and meeting the criteria for court-ordered services, and whether they face criminal charges.

Criteria for Commitment

We believe the proposed patient has a mental illness and fulfills the criteria outlined in Sections 574.034, 574.0345, 574.035, or 574.0355 for court-ordered mental health services. These sections specify the particular conditions and circumstances that warrant commitment, but the current data does not provide them.

Appointment and Duties of Attorney (Sec. 574.003 & 574.004)

The judge must appoint an attorney to represent the proposed patient within 24 hours after the application is filed if they don’t have one.

The attorney has several duties, including interviewing the proposed patient, discussing the law and facts of the case, reviewing the application and medical records, and advocating for the patient’s rights and wishes.

Setting on Application (Sec. 574.005)

The court sets a hearing date within 14 days after filing the application.

If the proposed patient or their attorney objects, the hearing cannot take place in the first three days after filing.

The court can grant continuances, but the hearing must occur no later than the 30th day after filing the application.

Notice (Sec. 574.006)

We must provide the proposed patient and their attorney with a copy of the application and written notice of the hearing time and place immediately after setting the hearing date.

We must also give notice to the proposed patient’s parent (if a minor), guardian, or conservator.

This information provides an overview of the process and criteria for involuntary commitment in Texas.

How Can You Be Detain For A Involuntary Commitment

In Texas, Chapter 573 of the Texas Health and Safety Code outlines the process for emergency detention, which can lead to involuntary commitment. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how a person can be detained for emergency detention:

Apprehension by Peace Officer Without a Warrant (Sec. 573.001)

A peace officer can take a person into custody without a warrant if the officer believes the person has a mental illness. Due to the mental illness, if there’s a substantial risk of serious harm to the person or others unless they are immediately restrained.

The officer believes there isn’t enough time to obtain a warrant before taking the person into custody.

We can demonstrate the risk of harm through the person’s behavior or by providing evidence of severe emotional distress and deterioration in their mental condition to the extent that they cannot remain at liberty.

We can form this belief based on a representation from a credible person or by considering the conduct of the person being apprehended or the circumstances under which we find them.

Once taken into custody, the peace officer must immediately transport the person to the nearest appropriate inpatient mental health facility or a facility deemed suitable by the local mental health authority. We do not consider jails or similar detention facilities suitable unless in extreme emergencies.

If we detain someone in a non-medical facility, we must keep them separate from any individual charged with or convicted of a crime.

The peace officer must immediately inform the person of the reason for detention and that a staff member of the facility will inform them of their rights within 24 hours after admission.

Peace Officer’s Notification of Detention (Sec. 573.002)

After transporting a person for emergency detention, the peace officer must immediately file a notification of detention with the facility.

The notification must contain specific details, including the reason for believing the person has a mental illness, the risk of harm, and a detailed description of the behavior, acts, or threats that led to the detention.

Transportation for Emergency Detention by Guardian (Sec. 573.003):

A guardian of a person aged 18 or older can transport the ward to an inpatient mental health facility for a preliminary examination if the guardian believes the ward has a mental illness. Or if due to the mental illness, there’s a substantial risk of serious harm to the ward or others unless immediately restrained. And that we can demonstrate the risk of harm through the ward’s behavior or evidence of severe emotional distress and deterioration in their mental condition.

Guardian’s Application for Emergency Detention (Sec. 573.004):

After transporting a ward for emergency detention, the guardian must immediately file an application for detention with the facility.

The application must contain specific details similar to the peace officer’s notification, including the reason for believing the ward has a mental illness, the risk of harm, and a detailed description of the behavior, acts, or threats.

Transportation for Emergency Detention by Emergency Medical Services Provider (Sec. 573.005)

A law enforcement agency and an emergency medical services provider can execute a memorandum of understanding allowing emergency medical services personnel to transport a person taken into custody by a peace officer.

This process ensures the safe detention and evaluation of individuals who, due to mental illness, pose a risk to themselves or others, by mental health professionals. The goal is to deliver necessary care and treatment while also safeguarding the community’s safety.

What Rights Do I Have After I’ve Been Taken To An Inpatient Mental Health Facility?

When you arrive at an inpatient mental health facility in Texas, Chapter 576 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, titled “Rights of Patients,” outlines several rights that you have.

You have the rights, benefits, responsibilities, and privileges guaranteed by the constitution and laws of the United States and Texas.

Unless a specific law limits a right under a special procedure, you hold the right to register and vote, acquire, use, and dispose of property, initiate or face lawsuits, enjoy all rights linked to licenses, permits, privileges, or benefits, exercise religious freedom, and maintain all rights associated with domestic relations.

Presumption of Competency (Sec. 576.002):

Being provided with mental health services does not determine or adjudicate you as mentally incompetent. You retain your rights as a citizen, property rights, and legal capacity. There’s a presumption that you are mentally competent unless a judicial finding states otherwise.

Writ of Habeas Corpus (Sec. 576.003):

You have the right to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the court of appeals for the county where the order was entered.

Confidentiality of Records (Sec. 576.005):

Records of the mental health facility that identify you are confidential unless disclosure is permitted by other state law.

Rights Subject to Limitation (Sec. 576.006):

You have the right to receive visitors, communicate with people outside the facility by telephone and uncensored mail, and communicate with legal counsel, the department, the courts, and the state attorney general. These rights are subject to the facility’s general rules. However, the physician responsible for your treatment can restrict them if necessary for your welfare or to protect another person. We must document any such restriction, and we must inform you of the reasons and duration of the restriction.

Notification of Rights (Sec. 576.009)

You must receive information about the rights this subtitle provides, both orally in simple terms and in writing in your primary language, or through means suitable for visually or hearing-impaired individuals.

Rights Relating to Treatment (Sec. 576.021):

You have the right to appropriate treatment for your mental illness in the least restrictive setting, not to receive unnecessary or excessive medication, refuse participation in research programs, have an individualized treatment plan and participate in its development, and a humane treatment environment that provides reasonable protection from harm and appropriate privacy.

Adequacy of Treatment (Sec. 576.022):

The facility administrator must provide adequate medical and psychiatric care and treatment in accordance with the highest standards accepted in medical practice.

Use of Physical Restraint (Sec. 576.024):

A physician must prescribe physical restraint, and someone must remove it as soon as possible. You must document each use of restraint and its reason in your clinical record.

Administration of Psychoactive Medication (Sec. 576.025):

You cannot receive psychoactive medication if you refuse, except in specific circumstances like a medication-related emergency, if a legal representative consents, or a court order authorizes it.

This is a summary of your rights upon being taken to an inpatient mental health facility in Texas. If you’d like more detailed information or specifics on other sections, I can continue to retrieve more data for you. Would you like me to do that?

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you. We can explain everything you need to know about your trial and how to defend your case best. We can help you step by step through the criminal process.

Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.

At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, our professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys have experience in constructing a defense case tailored to your needs, aiming for the best possible outcome that can benefit you.

Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case.

Call us now at (713) 338-2709.

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Involuntary Commitment FAQs

What is Involuntary Commitment in Texas?

Involuntary commitment in Texas is a legal process where individuals with severe mental illness may be court-ordered to receive treatment if they pose a risk to themselves or others.

When and Why Can Someone Be Committed?

Individuals can be committed if they are mentally ill and pose a substantial risk of harm to themselves or others, or if they are unable to make rational decisions about their treatment due to their mental state.

How Can Someone Be Detained for Involuntary Commitment?

A person can be detained without a warrant by a peace officer if they believe the person has a mental illness and poses an immediate risk of harm.

What Rights Do I Have After Being Taken to an Inpatient Mental Health Facility?

Patients have the right to be treated with dignity, communicate with legal counsel, receive visitors, and participate in their treatment plan, among other rights.

How Long Can Someone Be Held Under Involuntary Commitment?

The initial court order for involuntary commitment can last up to 90 days, and it can be extended if the court finds it necessary.

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