Two Paths to Court-Ordered Drug Rehab
In general, a judge can order someone to attend drug or alcohol rehab via two processes. In certain criminal cases where addiction was a factor in the person’s actions, the judge may choose to order rehab rather than sentence the person to jail time. Outside of criminal cases, families can seek an emergency order for admission to drug rehab by going through an investigation process and proving their loved one meets the requirements for such a step.
Orders for Rehab in Criminal Cases
Drug and alcohol addiction can impact a person’s actions and personality, even leading them to commit actions they wouldn’t normally consider. In some cases, that can result in criminal charges. Someone may do something illegal when they are drunk or high that they would never do sober, for example. And if someone is dealing with extreme cravings or withdrawal symptoms, they may do anything to get their next fix, including stealing or committing other crimes to get drugs.
In cases where addiction is a factor in the person’s criminal actions and the crimes themselves were not violent in nature, judges typically have the option of ordering the person to attend rehab rather than sentencing them to prison. This is especially true in cases where the crime is a first offense.
Emergency Orders for Drug Rehab
Families obviously don’t want to wait until things have devolved into criminal charges. If your loved one struggles with addiction, you may be pushing for them to attend an inpatient rehab program. Many people caught in the cycle of substance abuse and addiction aren’t able to see or admit that they need help or are unwilling to seek that help, even if they know how much they’re struggling.
When this happens, individuals may want to seek an emergency court order for rehab. Not all states have laws that support this step, but Florida does. It’s called the Marchman Act, and it provides families with a way to commit their loved ones for treatment even if their loved one refuses to seek help voluntarily.
How to Seek Involuntary Commitment Under the Marchman Act
- File a petition in good faith. That means you truly believe the person is a danger to themselves or others because of addiction and that the person does not have full control of his or her own actions.
- The petition requests that the person in question be assessed. It must be filed with the county court for the jurisdiction where the person resides, not in your own jurisdiction if those aren’t the same.
- The court will hear testimony and evidence about the matter. The judge will be looking for proof that:
- The person has lost self-control
- He or she is a danger to self or others
- He or she no longer has the capacity for rational decision-making, specifically regarding whether he or she needs drug or alcohol rehab.
- Based on the evidence presented at the hearing, the court will decide either not to take action or to order that the person be held for up to five days for an involuntary assessment.
- Based on the assessment, the judge may choose to order an involuntary admission to a rehab program for no longer than 60 days.
Options for Filing a Petition Under the Marchman Act
While you may feel like you have to take immediate, spontaneous action to save your loved one, following the Marchman Act procedure is important to ensure a higher likelihood of success with your petition. Here are some options you can take.
- File the petition yourself if you are a spouse, guardian, or relative of an adult person. If you’re a friend, you will need to file the petition with three other adults who also know the person’s addiction. The clerk at the courthouse in your loved one’s jurisdiction will be able to provide the appropriate paperwork and may be able to offer some basic assistance or answer questions about completing it. Many county clerk’s offices also make the petitions available online; for example, here is the paperwork for Miami Dade County Court.
- You can hire a lawyer to help you file the petition and prepare for the court proceedings, though this can be an expensive option.
- A comprehensive intervention counselor may help you file a Marchman Petition as part of services if they believe no other intervention will help your loved one see that they need to seek treatment. Fees for this service can also be expensive, though they may be less than legal fees.
Note that a Marchman Petition does not supersede any other court case. Individuals facing criminal charges are not excused from any sentence of the criminal court because a Marchman Petition has resulted in a court order for rehab.
What Happens After a Court Orders Rehab?
In Marchman Petition cases, the court will send the individual in question to a licensed rehab facility within the same county where the petition was filed. Facilities must be licensed under the Marchman Act to accept individuals who were ordered to receive rehab through this process.
However, the court does not have the ability to demand a bed be provided to an individual and send that person directly to the facility in question. Families may have to work with providers to find the right location for their loved ones.
How Long is Court-Ordered Rehab?
The court cannot order rehab for longer than 60 days, but that doesn’t mean your loved one will be in rehab exactly that long. The court can extend the order after hearing expert testimony and deciding there is a case for longer rehab.
In some cases, after going through an initial detox period and beginning to work with rehab staff, individuals can make rational decisions about recovery. They may choose to stay in rehab as long as they need to support long-term sobriety.
Other individuals may work through the process in a shorter amount of time and be discharged from rehab based on the assessments of professional counselors and doctors. In these cases, the individual may voluntarily step down into outpatient rehab or aftercare solutions.
Is Involuntary Rehab Effective?
If your loved one refused to seek inpatient treatment for drug or alcohol abuse until the court mandated it, you might think the rehab has less of a chance of being effective. In reality, studies have shown there is little difference between the outcomes of voluntary admissions and involuntary admissions to rehab facilities.
This may be true because drugs and alcohol can alter how a person acts and thinks. Once they get into rehab and go through medically assisted detox — getting substances out of their system without suffering some of the more uncomfortable and severe side effects of doing so — individuals may be able to look at their circumstances in a whole new light. They may begin to be more willing to participate in rehab, boosting their chances at sobriety.
Who Pays for Court-Ordered Rehab?
The court doesn’t pay for court-ordered rehab or make any financial arrangements for it. Individuals with insurance likely have a mental health benefit that covers chemical dependency treatment. The Affordable Care Act requires those benefits, so private insurance plans obtained through the healthcare marketplaces and government plans such as Medicare and Medicaid include relevant coverage.
Many rehab facilities will work with individuals and their families to verify insurance and make arrangements for any out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles. You may be able to request financial assistance to cover those costs or make long-term payment arrangements. Some facilities provide treatment to individuals on a sliding scale, which means charges correspond to the ability to pay.
You should never let financial concerns stop you from encouraging your loved one to seek help for his or her addiction or filing a Marchman Act Petition if you think that’s the only way to help them. Experienced counselors and rehab admissions staff can typically provide several options for rehab that fit financial needs.