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What is the Marchman Act?


The Marchman Act provides that relatives or friends can file a petition with the court to request  involuntary commitment for someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. The law can be used to require a person to undergo mandatory treatment for addiction as well as to allow a person to be committed for mental illness issues.

After a person reaches the age of majority, which is 18 years old in Florida, they cannot be forced to seek medical treatment. The Marchman Act steps in to allow a parent, a close relative, or a friend to make medical decisions for an adult if that person is for some reason not of sound mind.

The involuntary commitment allowed under Marchman Act provisions can be applied to individuals who are experiencing a mental illness or substance-fueled incident that impairs their ability to reason or seek appropriate treatment. A successful petition allows another person to  make decisions during the period of incapacity.

Who can file a Marchman Act petition?

A spouse, a relative, or a group of at least three people can file a Marchman petition. The option that allows for a group of people to file the petition is specifically designed to provide protection for people who are not married or have family members nearby.

Once it is determined who will file the petition, they will complete a package of documents and will describe the person’s substance abuse problem and will try to define what behavior they believe is jeopardizing an individual’s life or the life of others.

In order to get the Marchman Act petition approved, the people who file must prove that:

  • the person has no control over their use of intoxicating substances;
  • the person will harm themselves or others without involuntary commitment;
  • the person does not understand that they need treatment or assistance;
  • the person is not willing to seek help independently.

These elements are critical to prove so that we can ensure that a person is not unnecessarily committed to treatment against their will.

What happens if my petition is successful?

A hearing is held about the facts alleged within the petition and a judge will determine if the person should be admitted to court-ordered treatment. Usually, this first confinement is for a short period of time, such as three to five days, then the court will review the status of the individual and determine is a longer period of confinement is appropriate. This longer period of time will last from 60 to 90 days, then the court will review the case again to determine if the individual has recovered.

Contact an attorney

If a family member or loved one is suffering from drug addiction or a mental illness issue, contact our Florida Marchman Act attorneys at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. to further discuss all of the requirements for filing a Marchman Act petition and how this type of treatment-based temporary confinement can help your impacted person. Addiction and mental illness can be serious if untreated, so take the steps today to understand how this Florida law can help.

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