Baker Act: Definitions, Relevant Statutes, Key Checklist Items and Critical Timeframes

The “Baker Act is the common name for The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971; (Chapter 394 – Mental Health Part 1- Florida Mental Health Act State Statutes 394.451-394.47891) which allows an individual to be involuntary examined and institutionalized.The Baker Act allows for involuntary examination and can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians, or mental health professionals. The two criteria that must be present is that person:

• has a mental illness (as defined in the Baker Act).

• is a harm to self, harm to others, or there is evidence of self-neglect (as defined in the Baker Act).

Mental illness” means an impairment of the mental or emotional processes that exercise conscious control of one’s actions or of the ability to perceive or understand reality, which impairment substantially interferes with the person’s ability to meet the ordinary demands of living. For the purposes of this part, the term does not include a developmental disability as defined in chapter 393, intoxication, or conditions manifested only by antisocial behavior or substance abuse impairment” (as defined in the Baker Act).


394.459 Rights of patients.

394.4615 Clinical records; confidentiality.

394.462 Transportation.

394.4625 Voluntary admissions.

394.463 Involuntary examination.

394.4655 Involuntary outpatient placement.

394.467 Involuntary inpatient placement.

394.468 Admission and discharge procedures.

394.4685 Transfer of patients among facilities.

394.469 Discharge of involuntary patients.


Certificate of Professional Initiating Involuntary Examination

• Include name of client/patient

• Complete date and/or time

• Be sure to list mental illness diagnosis

• Behaviors supporting mental diagnosis can be included

• Include printed name of professional completing the form

• Include the degree/title of the professional e.g. MD, PhD, LCSW, Physician, Psychiatrist etc.

Release from Involuntary Examination

• Include details as to why the person is being released from involuntary examination

• Include date and time of the examination

Voluntary Admission

• Use the correct forms for minor child and adult

• Note on the voluntary admission form if minor child refused to co-sign

• Voluntary admission form can only be signed by a legal guardian/parent

• Be sure to include the name of the patient

• Make sure to complete the reason the person came to the hospital

• Printed name of the staff/person witnessing signature needs to be legible

Petition for Involuntary Inpatient Placement

• Psychiatrist/Clinical Psychologist name needs to be on the correct line

• 1st and 2nd Opinions have to be completed before the Baker Act expires

• Include observations supporting petition

• Include the date and time of the examination

• Writing on the document needs to be legible


Certificate of Professional Initiating Involuntary Examination

• Examine person within preceding 48 hours

• 72 hour clock is non-negotiable- person has to be converted to voluntary status or involuntary inpatient placement process has to be initiated

Emergency Medical Condition

• The 72-hour period begins when the patient arrives at the hospital and ceases when the attending physician documents that the patient has an emergency medical condition.

• Once person is medically cleared the BA clock resumes.

• One of the following must occur within 12 hours after the patient’s attending physician documents that the patient’s medical condition has stabilized or that an emergency medical condition does not exist:

1. The patient must be examined by a designated receiving facility and released; or

2. The patient must be transferred to a designated receiving facility in which appropriate medical treatment is available.

Petition for Involuntary Inpatient Placement

• 1st opinion, 2nd opinion and court filing must happen within 72 hours

Request for Discharge from Hospital

• Must be communicated to a physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist as quickly as possible, but not later than 12 hours after the request is made.

• Person has to be examined within 24 hours and 1) either has to be discharged 2) involuntary inpatient placement process has to be initiated or 3) request for discharge has to be rescinded by patient

Transfer to Involuntary Status

• If involuntary placement petition is filed it must be filed within 2 court working days

Court Hearing on Involuntary Inpatient Placement

• Within 5 court working days

Writ of Habeas Corpus

• Must be filed with the court by next court working day


National Alliance on Mental Illness

1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264)

National Institute of Mental Health

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