A procedure whereby a person is involuntarily placed in the custody of the State Department of Mental Health for treatment.
Clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence that:
- the respondent is mentally ill; and
- because of the mental illness the person poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to himself or to others; and
- respondent will continue to experience mental distress and deterioration of ability to function independently if not treated; and
- respondent is unable to make a rational decision regarding treatment.
- Under Lynch v. Baxley, another element that is required is evidence that a person has actually been dangerous in the recent past and that such danger was manifested by an overt act, attempt or threat to do substantial harm to himself or another.
- treatment is available for the person’s mental illness or confinement is necessary to prevent the person from causing substantial harm to himself or to others; and
- commitment is the least restrictive alternative available.
Any person may seek to have another person committed by filing a petition with the Probate Court in accordance with Section 22-52-1.2 of the Code of Alabama.
In the probate court in the county where the respondent is located.
- For the respondent: yes, if such person lacks the mental ability to secure theservices of an attorney or if such person lacks the funds to employ an attorney.
- For the petitioner: yes, the court must appoint an attorney to advocate the petition to commit. The petitioner may employ an attorney on their own to appear in lieu of the appointed attorney.
If commitment is granted, the order shall be entered for outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment. The least restrictive alternative necessary and available for the treatment of the respondent’s mental illness shall be ordered. Inpatient treatment may be ordered at a state mental health facility or a designated mental health facility. Outpatient treatment may be ordered at a designated mental health facility if said facility consents to treat the respondent on an outpatient basis.
THIS INFORMATION, WHICH IS BASED ON ALABAMA LAW, IS ONLY TO INFORM AND NOT TO ADVISE. NO PERSON SHOULD EVER APPLY OR INTERPRET ANY LAW WITHOUT THE AID OF A LAWYER WHO ANALYZES THE FACTS, BECAUSE THE FACTS MAY CHANGE THE APPLICATION OF THE LAW.
Prepared by the Alabama Law Institute for the
Alabama Probate Judges' Association