A procedure whereby a person is placed against their will in the custody of the
State Department of Mental Health for treatment.
What elements must be present in order to commit a person?
Clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence that:
a. the respondent is mentally ill; and
b. because of the mental illness the person poses a real and present threat of substantial
harm to himself or to others; and
c. respondent will continue to experience mental stress and/or deterioration of the
ability to function independently if not treated; and
d. respondent is unable to make a rational decision regarding treatment; and
e. 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; and
f. 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
g. commitment is the least restrictive alternative available.
Who may file a petition to initiate an involuntary commitment proceeding?
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.
Where is the petition filed?
In the Probate Court in the county where the respondent is located.
Must the Court appoint attorneys to represent the parties involved in an involuntary commitment proceeding?
a. for the respondent: yes, if such person lacks the mental ability to secure the
services of an attorney or if such person lacks the funds to employ an attorney.
b. 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.
What are the results of the hearing?
The petition may be dismissed. Probable cause may be found to continue to hold the petitioner for further evaluation and treatment. If commitment is granted, an order shall be entered for either 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 state 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 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.