Outlined below are Ex Parte procedures pertaining to Baker Acts and Marchman Acts (Substance Abuse Services), Petitions for Involuntary Placement and Risk Protection Orders as these are the most common filings received within our office. Petitions to Determine Incapacity are filed in conjunction with Petitions for Appointment of Guardian, and the petitioner is required to be represented by an attorney.
Ex Parte Procedures
Ex Parte procedures for either Baker Act or Marchman Act cases consists of a layperson, such as a family member or friend, filing a petition with the court to have someone taken into a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment. The person for which treatment is being sought is referred to as the “respondent.”"
In this type of situation the petitioner fills out a "Report to Court" form with the help of a counselor at a Baker Act/Subtance Abuse Receiving facility. The counselor will verify with the petitioner that the respondent is in fact a danger to him/herself or others. If this is not the situation, the counselor will not recommend that the Petition for Evaluation be granted, which can certainly affect the judge's decision.
Once the Report to Court is completed, the petitioner files it with the Clerk's Office. A clerk then enters the information from the report into the "Petition for Evaluation" or "Petition for Involuntary Assessment and/or Stabilization." When the petition is complete, the petitioner swears that the allegations contained in it are true to the best of his or her knowledge and signs his or her name.
The next step is for the clerk to complete an "Order for Emergency Admission" or an "Ex Parte Order for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization," and submit it the judge for his or her review and signature. After the judge has signed the order, certified copies are taken to the Marion County Sheriff's Office for service on the respondent, and for their office to deliver said respondent to the appropriate facility for treatment.
Involuntary Placement Procedures
Involuntary Placement cases are filed with the Clerk’s Office by mental health facilities that already have the respondent in their care. Generally, these situations arise when physicians do not feel the respondent is stable or competent enough to leave the facility without being a danger to him or herself or others. For the facility to legally keep the respondent in their care the court must issue an order reflecting that decision.
When a Petition for Involuntary Placement is filed it alerts the Clerk’s Office that there will be a hearing. Once the Clerk’s office is aware that there will be a hearing on a case, a Notice of Hearing on Petition for Involuntary Placement is prepared and processed, and the Public Defender’s Office is appointed to represent the respondent. In addition, the State Attorney’s Office is appointed to represent the facility.
The hearings for these cases are attended by the general magistrate and/or judge, mental health clerk, assistant public defender, assistant state attorney, attending physician, and other care providers for the respondent. Family members and/or close friends are also permitted at these hearing.
Upon hearing the testimony of the attending physician, case manager, and other associated health care professionals, a decision is made regarding the treatment of the respondent and an appropriate order is entered.
What forms are provided by the Mental Health Department of the Clerk’s Office?
1. Petition and Affidavit Seeking Ex Parte Order Requiring Involuntary Examination
2. Petition and Affidavit for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization
3. Petition for Involuntary Services
4. Statement of Non-Compliance
These forms are available to purchase in our office.
Risk Protection Orders
In March, 2018, the Florida Legislature passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act (Section 790.401, Florida Statutes), in response to a tragic school shooting. This act is also known as the "The Risk Protection Order Act". Risk Protection Orders are also referred to as RPO's.
Only law enforcement officers and agencies may file an RPO petitions.
Other useful information can be found on the links below:
*Florida Courts (https://www.flcourts.org/Resources-Services/Risk-Protection-Orders)
*Risk Protection Informational Brochure (PDF)
*Handbook with Community Resource List (PDF)