The Marchman Act is also known as the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993. It is a legal statute in Florida designed to provide emergency intervention for individuals who are abusing alcohol or drugs. This statute is intended to deal with very serious situations. It could be when a chronic substance abuser may be incapable of seeking help, refuses to seek help and might be a danger to themselves or others. The Marchman Act makes it possible for certain individuals, as well as family members, to petition for a court-ordered evaluation to be performed on a chronic substance abuser. This evaluation can happen due to mandated treatment even if the alleged chronic substance abuser refuses it
Substance Abuse Treatment
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are over 22 million citizens in the United States who may need substance abuse services in a single year. It is estimated that less than 2.6 million individuals were able to get the necessary treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), deaths in the United States attributed to a drug overdose have more than tripled in recent years. The Marchman Act is an involuntary commitment law. It is a tool designed to help chronic substance abusers.
The Marchman Act was created as a way to help those concerned about a loved one who desperately needs help. It can get the assistance needed when a chronic substance abuser refuses treatment. There are certain criteria required for an appropriate referral.
*An individual has inflicted or attempted to inflict harm on themselves or others
*An individual is unable to control or end their use of drugs or alcohol.
*An individual is unable to make rational decisions regarding their substance abuse or treatment.
Marchman Act Process
*Petition – It can be filed by a spouse, relative or guardian. It can also be filed by three concerned individuals who are not related but have seen a person’s out of control drug or alcohol abuse. A law enforcement officer, physician or therapist can file an emergency petition.
*Attorney – An attorney who understands the Marchman Act can help make certain a petition is correctly filed. They can also assist during the entire process.
*Paperwork – This must be filed with the clerk of courts in the county where an individual is abusing drugs or alcohol and is staying or living. Once a person has completed the paperwork, they will be required to swear to its veracity. The petition is then notarized and sent for review by a judge.
*Ex Parte Order – A judge or magistrate will determine if a situation requires immediate action, an Ex Parte order, or if the person who is impaired should be served with a summons that mandates them to attend a hearing. Should it be decided the situation is an emergency, a judge or magistrate can also order law enforcement to get the impaired person and take them to a facility for evaluation.
*Hearing – Should a judge or magistrate determine a situation does not require an Ex Parte order, they may deny the petition or set a hearing date to be held within 10 days. Should a hearing be set, a petitioner is notified by mail. A summons is issued for a respondent. All parties should attend the hearing.
*Legal Counsel – All parties are permitted to have legal counsel for the hearing if they choose. The respondent can provide their own attorney, or they can be provided with a court-appointed attorney.
*Testimony – During the hearing, testimony is presented. A judge or magistrate will determine if a court-ordered evaluation is necessary. The respondent has the burden of proving the individual being accused of substance abuse impairment requires professional evaluation. There are certain facilities able to perform such evaluations. It should take five days to perform, but more time can be requested from a court if necessary.
*After Evaluation – At this time, a facility can choose to discharge an individual, change their status to voluntary or as a court-ordered involuntary admission for treatment services. Treatment can be ordered for up to 60 days. Some counties enable 90 days of treatment with the possibility of renewal every 90 days.
The Matchman Act has been able to help individuals who have been self-destructing with their abuse of drugs or alcohol. Using the power to initiate a petition for an involuntary commitment must only be done as a last resort. When someone believes a person they know or love is in desperate need of help, it should be discussed with a physician or a specialist in the field of addiction. Speaking with an experienced professional should be your first step. We provide counselors who are available to assist you 24 hours a day to help with a chronic substance abuser. Call us today and discuss your situation at 800-737-0933.