Can you involuntary confine someone for psychological/verbal abuse?

UPDATED: Jan 27, 2011

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Can you involuntary confine someone for psychological/verbal abuse?

I have been to 2 counselors for severe depression and friend/family problems. Both counselors have come to the conclusion that how I react towards certain social situations is the effect of my mother’s ongoing verbal and psychological abuse towards me. Everyone else in my family (my 2 sisters and my father – who is still married to my mother) has received counseling for depression. My mother doesn’t think that she needs counseling and continues her behavior. The problem I have now is that I need some medical care (I am 23 and have a BS in CE), but she won’t let me use insurance to get it. Can we use the Baker Act here?

Asked on January 27, 2011 under Estate Planning, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A Baker Act confinement is a means of providing individuals with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment on either on a voluntary or an involuntary basis. What you would be looking for here is involuntary Baker Act.  This occurs when a person is taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination when there is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness, the person has refused voluntary examination.  This refusal must be do to the fact that the person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary and without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or her well being; and there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.

Based on the facts presented here, while your mother may be in need of counseling, she does not pose an immediate threat to herself or those around her.  Consequently, a Baker Act confinement would be inappropriate in this situation.  Again, however, this doesn't mean the your mother doesn't need therapy - it just means that you cannot force her to get it.  That being the case, just stay clear of her to the extent that you can.  As for your insurance issues, see if you qualify for some type of free or low cost counseling/medical services (either local, state, or federa)l. Contact your state's Department of Family Services. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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