What Is The Difference Between The Marchman Act and The Baker Act?

The Marchman Act and the Baker Act are two acts under Florida law which are intended to help people get the treatment or care they need. Sometimes the two acts are confused by those who need to seek care for a loved one, so we’ll outline the main differences here.

The Baker Act

This is Florida’s Mental Health Act which states “The Baker Act encourages the voluntary admission of persons for psychiatric care, but only when they are able to understand the decision and its consequences and are able to fully exercise their rights for themselves. When this is not possible due to the severity of the person’s condition, the law requires that the person be extended the due process rights assured under the involuntary provisions of the Baker Act.” (dcf.state.fl.us, 2011) Under certain criteria, a person can be involuntarily admitted for evaluation and/or psychiatric care in circumstances where the person’s welfare is truly at stake due to their mental illness. If the admission is involuntary, they can be held for up to three days for evaluation by a psychiatrist.

The Marchman Act

This is Florida’s Substance Abuse Impairment Act which is intended to get treatment for those who are suffering from an addiction. Going to treatment under the Marchman Act can be voluntary or involuntary, but just like the Baker Act if the admission will be involuntary certain criteria must be met. The Marchman Act is initiated through the court with a petition followed by a hearing. If a person is admitted involuntarily, they can be held for up to five days to be evaluated and stabilized.

As you can see, the difference between the Marchman Act and the Baker Act is one is meant to help those with a mental illness while the other is meant to help get treatment for substance abuse. Knowing the differences when filing a petition with the court or law enforcement will help you make the right decision and get the proper treatment for your loved one. It may be difficult to take the step to have someone admitted into a facility for treatment, but in the end it may be the right thing to do if you fear that the person will not otherwise get the help they need. Keep in mind that even if they are angry with you, in the long run they will probably thank you.

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