1. Petition is filed
The petition must explain why you need to be admitted. It should include the time and place of any threats or dangerous actions.
The person who is filing the petition must state whether he or she has any legal or financial involvement with you.
If a certificate has already been prepared by a doctor or other mental health professional, it is filed with the petition.
2. Mental health examination
The judge will review the documents.
If there are at least two certificates, the judge will schedule a hearing to be held within 5 business days. If only one certificate was filed with the petition, the judge would order you to be examined by a mental health professional. If no certificates are with the petition, the court will order you to be examined twice.
You must receive a copy of the petition and the court order requiring you to submit to an exam at least 36 hours before the examination. If you have a guardian or an attorney, a copy must be provided to them as well.
When you go to the examination, you can bring a relative, friend or attorney. In general, you can remain in your home while you are waiting for the examination. However, if you refuse to attend the exam voluntarily, the judge can order that you be taken to a mental health facility by police. You will be held there to be examined.
Even if you have not been asked to attend an exam, the court may issue an order to have you picked up by a police officer and taken to a facility for an examination. In this case, the facility cannot hold you for more than 24 hours of your admission unless a certificate has been filed within that time.
The examiner must clearly explain to you that the purpose of the examination is to decide whether you need to be involuntarily admitted. The examiner must inform you that you do not have to say anything at the exam and that anything that you do say may be disclosed at a court hearing.
If you are admitted to a mental health facility for an exam, the facility must release you within 24 hours. The facility is not required to release you if they believe that you pose an immediate threat of harm to yourself or others. In that case, they should start emergency proceedings to admit you by certification.
3. Court hearing
The judge will schedule a court hearing as soon as two certificates are filed which indicate that you need to be involuntarily admitted. The hearing will be held within five business days after the filing of the second certificate.
Notice of the hearing must be sent to you, your lawyer and guardian if any, your spouse, and your parents (if you are under 18).
After the examination, you have the right to return to your home until the time of the hearing. But almost all people are involuntarily admitted after the examination and remain in the facility while they are awaiting the hearing.
If you are permitted to return home while awaiting the hearing, the judge can order a law enforcement officer to take you to the hearing if the judge thinks this is necessary for your safety or to make sure you attend.
Updated: February 2018