At the Mental Health Department of the Clerk’s Office, we’re here to help you by providing services to families regarding substance abuse and mental-health disorders. Our office is located in the Duval County Courthouse at the address listed below.
We take petitions from the public from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please note that you will need your own valid photo ID and enough identifying information about the individual you are filing on to complete an information sheet (their date of birth and current address are required).
The individual you are filing on must be a resident of Duval County.
This page will give you a great deal of information about our office, but if we can be of further service, please use the contact us form on the bottom of this page.
- Marchman Act
- Involuntary Assessment - Florida Statute 397.6811
- Involuntary Services - Florida Statute 397.693
- Baker Act
- Involuntary Examination - Florida Statute 394.463
- Involuntary Outpatient Services - Florida Statute 394.4655
- Involuntary Inpatient Placement - Florida Statute 394.467
- Writ of Habeas Corpus - Florida Statute 394.459 (8)(A)
- Incapacity – Florida Statute 744.3201
- Tuberculosis- Florida Statute 392.56
- Developmental Disabilities- Florida Statute 393.11
- Adult Protective Services- Florida Statute 415.1051
- Emergency Adult Protective Services- Florida Statute 415.1051 (2)
Involuntary Assessment (Marchman Act)
A Petition for Involuntary Assessment may be filed when there is good-faith reason to believe that:
- an individual is substance abuse impaired, and
- because of such impairment he/she has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse, and
- he/she has inflicted or is likely to inflict physical harm on himself/herself or others unless admitted, or
- his/her refusal to voluntarily receive care is based on judgment so impaired by reason of substance abuse that he/she is incapable of appreciating his/her need for care and of making a rational decision regarding that need for care.
If the individual has refused to submit to an assessment, such refusal must be alleged in the petition.
The petitioner files the petition with the Clerk of Court. The case must be set for a hearing within 10 days, unless the petitioner elects to file an Ex Parte petition. (see next paragraph) Notice of the hearing is provided to the Petitioners at the time of filing, and the patient is served notice of the hearing and summons by a plainclothes deputy sheriff. A magistrate presides at the hearing, and after all relevant testimony is given, may enter an Order for Involuntary Assessment. Unless arrangements have been made for a voluntary assessment, the facility will assess the patient face-to-face. A written assessment is then sent to the court, which, after receiving the written assessment, may proceed with the Petition for Involuntary Treatment.
If an Ex Parte petition is filed, the court may order a law enforcement officer or other designated agent of the court to take the individual into custody and deliver him/her to the nearest appropriate licensed service provider.
Involuntary Services (Marchman Act)
A Petition for Involuntary Services may be filed within 12 days, once the written assessment is reviewed by the court and a recommendation is made for involuntary services. Notice of a hearing is provided by mail to the Petitioners and any attorney on record. The patient is once again served notice of the hearing and summons by a plainclothes deputy sheriff. A magistrate also presides at this hearing and after considering all relevant testimony, may enter an order for involuntary services for a period of up to 90 days.
The Baker Act is used for cases in which the person has a mental illness and meets all remaining criteria for voluntary or involuntary admission (Florida Statutes 394).
Involuntary Examination Criteria
A Petition for Involuntary Examination may be filed when there is reason to believe an individual is mentally ill and has refused voluntary help because of that mental illness. There would also need to be reason to believe that the person is unable to determine for him or herself that examination is necessary. In addition, there must be a threat to the person’s well-being because she or he did not receive proper care.
It may also be possible that there are no family members or friends available to help, or there may be a likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm in the near future to her or himself or to others, as evidenced by recent behavior. In any case, a patient may not be held in a receiving facility for involuntary examination for more than 72 hours.
Involuntary Outpatient Services
If after examining a patient, the administrator of a receiving facility recommends that the patient receive involuntary outpatient services, the patient may be retained by the facility. This must be done after adhering to the notice procedures provided in Florida Statutes 394.4599. The recommendation must be supported by the opinion of a psychiatrist and by the second opinion of a clinical psychologist or another psychiatrist. Both professionals must have personally examined the patient within the preceding 72 hours that the criteria for involuntary outpatient placement are met.
Involuntary Inpatient Placement
A Petition for Involuntary Placement may be filed by the administrator of a facility licensed by the Department of Children and Families under Florida Statute 394. Once filed, the petition must be heard within five court working days. The public defender is appointed to represent the patient, and a magistrate presides over the hearing. One of the doctors who signed the petition must be a witness. And if the court concludes that the patient meets the criteria for involuntary placement, it will order that the patient be transferred to a treatment facility for up to six months.
You may find the following information on habeas corpus of interest. It is taken directly from Florida Statute 394.459
- At any time, and without notice, a person held in a receiving or treatment facility, or a relative, friend, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, or attorney, or the department, on behalf of such person, may petition for a writ of habeas corpus to question the cause and legality of such detention and request that the court order a return to the writ in accordance with chapter 79. Each patient held in a facility shall receive a written notice of the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
- At any time, and without notice, a person who is a patient in a receiving or treatment facility, or a relative, friend, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, or attorney, or the department, on behalf of such person, may file a petition in the circuit court in the county where the patient is being held alleging that the patient is being unjustly denied a right or privilege granted herein or that a procedure authorized herein is being abused. Upon the filing of such a petition, the court shall have the authority to conduct a judicial inquiry and to issue any order needed to correct an abuse of the provisions of this part.
- The administrator of any receiving or treatment facility receiving a petition under this subsection shall file the petition with the clerk of the court on the next court working day.
Any adult may execute a Petition to Determine Incapacity. Once the petition is filed, an examining committee is appointed, and an attorney is also appointed to represent the alleged incapacitated person. If the ward is indigent, we will appoint Regional Conflict Counsel (RCC) as long as RCC does not have a conflict. The examining committee is composed of three doctors. One must be an M.D., while the other two will be a psychiatrist, a psychologist or gerontologist, and/or a layperson, which are chosen at random. The examining committee files a written report, and a hearing is usually set within 30 days of the filing of the petition.
Restoration to Capacity
Any person interested in a particular case may file a Suggestion of Capacity. The Suggestion of Capacity must state that the ward is currently capable of exercising some or all of the rights that were removed at the hearing to determine incapacity. The court will appoint a medical doctor who was not appointed in the Petition to Determine Incapacity. This doctor will examine the ward, and a notice of filing the Suggestion of Capacity is sent to all interested persons.
The guardian is served by formal notice. If the medical examination suggests that restoration is not appropriate, a hearing is set. If an objection is filed, a hearing is then scheduled within 30 days. The court will enter an order either denying the Suggestion of Capacity or restoring all or some of the rights that were removed from the ward.
TuberculosisIf someone has an active case of tuberculosis, the Department of Health may petition the Circuit Court to order her or him to be hospitalized, placed in a healthcare facility or isolated from the general public. The person may remain confined until the risk of infection to the general public can be eliminated. A hearing is set with the court, notice is served on all parties, and counsel is appointed for the patient. The receiving facility that takes our tuberculosis patients is UF & Shands.
Adult Protective Services
Certain legal proceedings are designed to protect disabled or elderly people who may be in danger of being abused, neglected or exploited. In these cases, the Department of Children and Families may Efile a petition with the court for an order that authorizes protective services for the people in danger.
The petition is heard within 14 days after the petition is filed. Notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition are served on the alleged victim, the caretaker and any other interested parties. Regional Conflict Counsel is appointed for the alleged victim, if there is not a conflict. If the court finds that the elderly or disabled person is in need of protective services, it may issue an order authorizing protective services and specifying the kinds of services that are to be provided. No more than 60 days after the date of the initial order, the Department of Children and Families will file a second petition to ask the court to determine if protective services should be continued or if a Petition to Determine Incapacity and a Petition for Guardianship should be filed.
Emergency Adult Protective Services
Sometimes representatives of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) find an elderly or disabled person who may be in danger of injury and death, but who may not be able to give consent for protective services. In these cases, the DCF representative will see that the person at risk is moved to an appropriate medical or protective-services facility.
Within 24 hours of this kind of removal, the department will Efile a petition to the court for an order authorizing protective services. The petition is heard within four days after the petition is filed. Notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition are served on the alleged victim, the caretaker and any other interested parties.
Regional Conflict Counsel is appointed for the alleged victim, if there is not a conflict. If the court finds that the elderly or disabled person is in need of protective services, it may issue an order authorizing protective services and specifying the services that will be provided.
No more than 60 days after the date of the initial order, the DCF will file a second petition. This asks the court to determine if protective services should be continued or if a Petition to Determine Incapacity and a Petition for Guardianship should be filed. A notice of hearing and a copy of the petition are sent to all interested parties, and counsel is appointed for the alleged victim.
At the hearing, the court will determine whether an emergency existed when the removal took place and whether an order to continue services should be entered. No more than 60 days after the order authorizing continuing services, the department will petition the court to hold a hearing to determine if emergency services should continue, be discontinued or if a Petition to Determine Incapacity and a Petition For Guardianship should be filed.
In cases of developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation, a Petition for Involuntary Admission may be filed by a petitioning commission consisting of three adults. One of these adults must be a licensed physician. The petition must state that a person with mental retardation needs residential services provided by the Department of Children and Families.
After this, a hearing is set, counsel is appointed for the patient, and an examining committee is summoned. The examining committee must include a licensed physician, a licensed psychologist and a professional with expertise in developmental disabilities. This committee must prepare a report and testify at the hearing, which must be held as soon as is practical after the petition is filed.
A magistrate may preside at the hearing. If the court finds that the individual meets the criteria for involuntary admission, an order is entered by the court directing the department to place the person in the most appropriate, least restrictive facility available. Please note that an order authorizing involuntary admission is never considered a judgment of incapacity. The issue of incapacity is treated separately under the requirements of Florida Statute 744.
IMPORTANT: Confidential Information within Court Filings
Please be advised that the Florida Supreme Court has substantially amended Rule 2.420 (Public Access to Judicial Branch Records) in SC11-2466. The Rule involves procedures regarding confidentiality of Court records and requires filers to notify the Clerk of confidential information contained in any filings. The amendment was effective May 1, 2013 and may be accessed at the following website link.
Please take special notice that the Court may impose sanctions under Rule 2.420 (i) for non-compliance.
For your convenience, an interactive form for providing notice of confidential information within court filings is available by following the link below.
- - Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing (Civil)
- - Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing (Criminal)
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Marchman Act?
The Marchman Act was established to provide involuntary treatment for substance abuse, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs or alcohol (Florida Statutes 397).
Is there a fee to file?
No, there isn’t. But please keep in mind that there is a fee of $231.00 for incapacity cases.
What facilities are used, and are they lockdown?
We use the following facilities:
- River Region (not lockdown)
- Gateway, Detox (not lockdown)
- Gateway New Beginnings (not lockdown), Detox (lockdown)
How long can an individual be ordered into treatment?
Our orders do not exceed 90 days. But if the staff of the facility feels that the individual needs to be there longer, they can petition the court to extend treatment.
What will happen if the Respondent doesn’t comply with the court-ordered assessment or treatment?
In this case, the facility is responsible for filing an affidavit to bring the person back into court before the magistrate.
How long do the orders remain in effect?
If no time limit is specified in the order, the order shall be valid for 7 days after the date that the order is signed.
Can you go outside Duval County to pick up an individual on an Exparte Order for Involuntary Examination?
No, we are limited to the boundaries of Duval County.
What facilities does Duval County use with an Exparte Order?
We use the following two facilities:
- Mental Health Resource Center, 11820 Beach Boulevard
- Mental Health Center of Jacksonville, 3333 W. 20th Street
Please note that the Respondent will go to the closest receiving facility unless there is no available bed.
How long does an involuntary examination take?
Normally it takes less than 72 hours unless the facility feels that the Respondent needs to be there longer.
What if people who are being held under an involuntary placement feel that they are being held against their will?
In this case, the person can ask the facility for a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. This may also be done by a friend, private attorney or spouse.
Mental Health Department
Monday through Friday (excluding holidays): 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. however we cease intake of new petitions at 4:00 p.m.
Duval County Clerk of Courts
Attn: MENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT
501 West Adams Street, Room 1038
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Contact the Mental Health department
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