Per Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes, the Baker Act provides for a process to obtain an ex-parte court order for the involuntary examination of an individual if there is reason to believe that a person is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness and the following conditions are met:
- The person has refused voluntary examination and/or is unable to determine whether an examination is necessary;
- The person is likely to suffer from neglect and the refusal could threaten his or her well-being; and
- If there is substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.
The petition can be filed by a person(s) who has firsthand knowledge of the situation.
A judge will review the petition and, if the petition is granted, a pick-up order is issued for examination and is provided to the Sheriff's Office for service on the respondent.
Note: Ex-Parte proceedings are not appropriate when the person is already in the custody of law enforcement and can be evaluated by trained personnel.
Baker Act Injunction Packets are available in the Injunction Office of the Citrus County Courthouse
For more information regarding the Baker Act process and procedure, please visit the Florida Department of Children and Families Baker Act Handbook located here.
- What is a Baker Act proceeding?
Chapter 394 of the Florida Statutes is known as The Baker Act and The Florida Mental Health Act. A Baker Act proceeding is a means of providing an individual with emergency services and temporary detention for mental health evaluation and treatment, either on a voluntary or involuntary basis.
- How are voluntary and involuntary Baker Act admissions different?
A voluntary Baker Act admission occurs when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent of a minor, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis, and treatment. - An involuntary Baker Act admission occurs upon a finding by a court that a person is mentally ill and, because of the mental illness, he/she has refused voluntary placement for treatment or is unable to determine whether placement is necessary. - They are incapable of living alone or with help, and without treatment is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for him/herself, or there is a substantial likelihood in the near future that he/she will inflict serious bodily harm on him/herself or others as evidenced by recent behavior. - All less restrictive treatment alternatives are not appropriate.
- How is an involuntary Baker Act proceeding initiated?
- A law enforcement officer may take a person who appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination into custody and deliver the person to the nearest receiving facility for an examination. - A physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker may execute a certificate that he or she has examined a person within the preceding 48 hours and finds that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination. A law enforcement officer shall take the person named in the certificate to the nearest receiving facility for an examination. - A court may enter an ex parte (on behalf of one party, without notice) order stating that the person appears to meet the criteria for involuntary examination. A law enforcement officer shall take the person into custody and deliver him or her for an examination.
- What steps must be taken to obtain an ex parte order?
Persons who have personal knowledge of the behavior of the individual, should give sworn testimony. The individual believed to be suffering from mental illness should be in Citrus County. The petitioner(s) must have observed the behavior and must have talked to the individual about obtaining a voluntary examination within a few days. The Clerk's Office will assist with the necessary paperwork.
Because paperwork must be processed, the petitioners should visit the Clerk's Office well before 5 p.m. The petitioners should bring a valid photo identification of themselves, two witnesses (if possible), and should be prepared to provide a specific address for the individual.
- What happens after the order is issued?
The order will be taken to the Civil Process Division of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, which will take the person into custody and to a receiving facility. The person is examined at the facility and the staff and doctors there determine any further action. The receiving facility is LifeStream Citrus County Access Center located at:
6 Regina Blvd Ste 12
Beverly Hills FL 34465
The person will then be transported to the LifeStream facility in Leesburg located at: 2020 Tally Rd, Leesburg FL 34748
- How long may a person be held under an ex parte Baker Act order?
A person may not be held for more than 72 hours.