Florida’s Marchman Act

Addiction can turn your life upside down. Whether you or someone you know is currently suffering from addiction, you are likely aware that reliance on substances such as alcohol or drugs can make it challenging to live a normal life. Addiction makes life difficult for those who live with it, but it also affects their loved ones as well.

Florida introduced a statute in 1993 called the Marchman Act to provide emergency intervention and assistance for individuals who suffer from chemical dependencies. This statute allows loved ones to file a petition so that an individual with addiction may receive court-ordered assessment, stabilization, and treatment. 

Do you believe that someone you love is suffering from a harmful addiction to alcohol or drugs? Are you an individual who has been wrongfully committed under the Marchman Act? Take a look below at the different aspects of this Florida statute and how they can affect or help you. 

What Is the Marchman Act?

In the State of Florida, the statistics for opioid addiction and alcoholism are troubling, with 17.2% of the population engaging in excessive drinking and thousands passing away from opioid overdose each year. The Marchman Act was created in the hopes of reducing these numbers and to assist:

  • Individuals living with addiction who no longer have control over their substance usage
  • People who can no longer make rational decisions due to their chemical dependency
  • Anyone who has become a danger to themselves or others as a result of their addiction

If a petition for involuntary commitment is approved, the individual who suffers from addiction will be brought in for an evaluation to determine the severity of their case. They must then appear in court in most circumstances; however, individuals with substantial abuse issues may be served with an ex parte order that will take them directly to a facility for treatment, stabilization, and detoxification.

Substances Covered Under the Marchman Act

While many people think of addiction as something that affects only a small percentage of the population, the truth is that nearly 20 million Americans struggle with it today. For those who are ordered to seek treatment for their addictions under the Marchman Act or anyone who wishes to petition a court-mandated treatment for someone they care about, the statute covers the following substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Opioids
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Methamphetamine

Addiction to one or more of these substances may act as a gateway toward the abuse of others, which is why it is important to speak with a trusted physician or criminal defense attorney about the dependency as early as possible. The sooner that treatment is started for you or someone you love, the better chance there is of recovery. 

What Are the Criteria for Involuntary Commitment?

The Marchman Act requires that an individual possess certain criteria before being considered for involuntary commitment. The court will consider the case based on the evidence provided by the person who wishes to petition for their loved one to be committed. However, in order to even be considered by the judge, there must be:

  • Concrete evidence that the addicted individual has or is likely to harm themselves or someone else
  • Reason to believe the person is too impaired to understand their need for treatment

For example, if your brother has been in a dozen car accidents over the last year due to his addiction to alcohol and driving while intoxicated, this can act as proof in court for his likelihood to harm others as well as himself. Filing a petition for an individual to be involuntarily committed is a serious matter, however, and should only be used as a last resort if the person in question refuses to acknowledge how their addiction is hurting others and themselves. 

Who Is Qualified to Petition for Involuntary Commitment Through the Marchman Act? 

It is not possible to file a petition for an individual’s commitment if you do not know them personally. In order to petition a court for involuntary commitment under the Marchman Act, you must have a close relationship with the individual who is suffering from the addiction. This can include:

  • Their spouse
  • A legal guardian
  • Any relative
  • Any three adults with personal knowledge of the individual’s addiction

In certain circumstances, a person may not have friends or family who are close enough to them to petition for involuntary commitment, and thus the job turns to individuals such as their employer, their physician, or their teacher. The court also allows emergency petitions to be filed by a therapist or law enforcement officer if the situation warrants it.

What Can You Do If You Were Wrongfully Committed in Florida Through the Marchman Act?

Being involuntarily committed against your will can be traumatic and frustrating. The situation can be even more challenging if you are being wrongfully committed. In certain circumstances, an individual may be ordered to attend a rehabilitation center even if they are not addicted to any substances. This often occurs with teenagers and young adults who are suspected by overly cautious teachers or physicians.

Experiencing a situation where you are being committed to a treatment facility for addiction, without actually suffering from addiction, may leave someone feeling embarrassed or even angry. These are natural reactions to such a circumstance, and anyone who experiences wrongful commitment should always seek out the counsel of a trusted legal professional. 

Work with an Experienced Marchman Act Attorney in Florida

No one should have to suffer through their addiction alone, and no one should be made to suffer while someone they love engages in harmful or addictive tendencies. If you want to begin the process of petitioning a court for someone you care about or if you have experienced wrongful involuntary commitment, contact the team of legal experts at The Umansky Law Firm who can help you with your case every step of the way. 

Our attorneys are ready to help you with your Marchman Act case. When you want to move forward, give us a call at (407) 228-3838 or reach out to us online to schedule a free legal consultation.