What Is Involuntary Commitment In Texas?
Involuntary commitment, also known as civil commitment, refers to the legal process by which an individual with symptoms of severe mental illness is court-ordered into treatment in a hospital or in the community. The specifics of involuntary commitment laws vary from state to state. In Texas, the process for involuntary commitment is governed by the Texas Health and Safety Code.
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.
A person can be detained for a short period without a court order if they pose an immediate threat to themselves or others. This is typically initiated by a peace officer or a physician.
Application for Court-Ordered Treatment
If longer-term treatment is deemed necessary, an application for court-ordered treatment must be filed with the county court. This application can be initiated by a physician, peace officer, or a mental health professional.
After the application is filed, a court hearing is scheduled. The individual has the right to legal representation, and if they cannot afford one, an attorney will be appointed for them. During the hearing, evidence is presented, 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, they can be ordered to inpatient treatment for up to 90 days initially. The commitment can be extended, if necessary, but each extension requires a new court hearing.
Rights of the Individual
Individuals who are involuntarily committed retain certain rights, including the right to be informed of 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 be released from involuntary commitment once they no longer meet the criteria. This decision is 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 need for treatment and safety.
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What Is The Legal Process?
Involuntary commitment in Texas refers to the legal process by which an individual, believed to be suffering from a mental illness, can be court-ordered to receive mental health services. This process is governed by the Texas Health and Safety Code, specifically Chapter 574, which deals with court-ordered mental health services.
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.
The application must be filed with the county clerk in the county where the proposed patient resides, is found, or is receiving mental health services by court order.
If the application is not filed in the county of the proposed patient’s residence, it can be transferred to that county if good cause is shown.
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 contain specific information, including the proposed patient’s name, address, county of residence, a statement that they are mentally ill and meet the criteria for court-ordered services, and whether they are charged with a criminal offense.
Criteria for Commitment
The proposed patient is believed to be a person with mental illness and meets the criteria outlined in Sections 574.034, 574.0345, 574.035, or 574.0355 for court-ordered mental health services. These sections detail the specific conditions and circumstances under which a person can be committed, but they are not provided in the current data.
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)
A hearing date is set within 14 days after the application is filed.
The hearing may not be held during the first three days after the application is filed if the proposed patient or their attorney objects.
The court can grant continuances, but the hearing must be held no later than the 30th day after the application is filed.
Notice (Sec. 574.006)
The proposed patient and their attorney must receive a copy of the application and written notice of the hearing time and place immediately after the hearing date is set.
Notice must also be given 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, the process for emergency detention, which can lead to involuntary commitment, is outlined in Chapter 573 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. 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.
The risk of harm can be demonstrated by the person’s behavior or evidence of severe emotional distress and deterioration in their mental condition to the extent that they cannot remain at liberty.
The belief can be formed based on a representation from a credible person or based on the conduct of the person being apprehended or the circumstances under which they are found.
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. Jails or similar detention facilities are not deemed suitable unless in extreme emergencies.
If detained in a non-medical facility, the person must be kept 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 the risk of harm can be demonstrated by 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 that individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others due to a mental illness can be safely detained and evaluated by mental health professionals. The goal is to provide necessary care and treatment while also ensuring the safety of the community.
What Rights Do I Have After I’ve Been Taken To An Inpatient Mental Health Facility?
Upon being taken to an inpatient mental health facility in Texas, you have several rights as outlined in Chapter 576 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, titled “Rights of Patients”.
Constitutional and Legal Rights (Sec. 576.001)
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 have the right to register and vote, acquire, use, and dispose of property, sue and be sued, have all rights relating to licenses, permits, privileges, or benefits, the right to religious freedom, and all rights relating to 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, they can be restricted by the physician responsible for your treatment if necessary for your welfare or to protect another person. Any such restriction must be documented, and you must be informed of the reasons and duration of the restriction.
Notification of Rights (Sec. 576.009)
You must be informed of the rights provided by this subtitle, either orally in simple terms and in writing in your primary language or through means to communicate with 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):
Physical restraint can only be applied if prescribed by a physician and must be removed as soon as possible. Each use of restraint and its reason must be documented in your clinical record.
Administration of Psychoactive Medication (Sec. 576.025):
Psychoactive medication cannot be administered to you if you refuse, unless under specific circumstances such as a medication-related emergency, consent by a legal representative, or if authorized by a court order.
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?
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Involuntary Commitment FAQs
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.
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.
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.
Patients have the right to be treated with dignity, communicate with legal counsel, receive visitors, and participate in their treatment plan, among other rights.
The initial court order for involuntary commitment can last up to 90 days, and it can be extended if the court finds it necessary.