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County Attorney Mental Commitment Information

MENTAL COMMITMENTS

Contents:

Mental Health Warrant (Emergency Detention)
Order of Protective Custody (“OPC”)
Temporary Mental Health Services
Long Term Mental Health Services
Confinement in a State Hospital Facility
Confinement in a Private Facility
Substance Abuse Commitments

 

                The Hale County Attorney’s Office assists the families and friends of persons with mental illness to seek help for those persons through the mental commitment process.

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If you have a friend or relative experiencing a mental illness that is making them a danger to themselves or to other people, you should call the Central Plains Center Crisis Line as soon as possible.  It is important that they see the patient during their time of crisis rather than several hours or days afterward.  The Central Plains Center Crisis Line is (806) 296-5555.

 

                Persons who are a danger to themselves or to others, or who cannot, because of mental illness care for their basic needs, may be placed under various orders for mental health treatment.  Mental health proceedings are filed in the county court.  These proceedings are governed by the Texas Mental Health Code.  The basic orders and proceedings are listed below:

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 Mental Health Warrant (Emergency Detention)

This is a warrant issued by a judge or magistrate ordering the pick-up and delivery of a possibly mentally ill person to a mental health facility for evaluation.  The order allows the mental health facility to hold the person for up to 48 hours for evaluation. After that time, the person must be released, checked in to the facility voluntarily, or held under further court orders and proceedings.  A mental health warrant is issued based on the application of any person, signed under oath, stating the reasons for which mental health evaluation is required.

 

Peace Officers also have authority to detain without an order or warrant persons who seem to be experiencing a mental illness causing them to be dangerous to themselves or to others.  A person brought to a mental facility under a peace officer emergency detention is treated in the same way as a person under an emergency detention order.

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Order of Protective Custody (“OPC”)

An order of protective custody may be issued by a judge upon the request of a county or district attorney in order to continue to hold a patient in a mental health facility pending hearing on an application for court-ordered temporary mental health services.

 

After an OPC is signed, the court appoints an attorney ad litem for the patient.  That attorney will interview the patient and represent his or her best interests in court.

 

The court must hold a hearing within 72 hours of signing the OPC to determine if probable cause exists to continue the OPC in effect.  Within 14 days of signing the OPC, the court must hold a hearing on the application for temporary mental health services.

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Temporary Mental Health Services

If the court makes the necessary findings to determine that a patient requires further treatment for mental illness, the court may order that the patient be confined in the mental health facility for up to 90 days.  This 90-day period is considered temporary mental health services.  The patient will be released when the physician treating him or her determines that release is medically warranted.

 

One of the predicates to an order for temporary mental health services is that there be on file with the court two certificates signed by physicians stating that mental health services are medically necessary and are in the patient’s best interest.  One of the certificates must be signed by a psychiatrist.

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Long Term Mental Health Services

In rare cases, the court may order that a patient be confined in a mental health facility for up to 180 days.  Such an order requires a higher burden of proof.  An order for long term mental health services is rarely sought.

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Confinement in a State Hospital Facility

a patient confined in a state hospital facility are treated at no cost to the patient or his or her family.  Admission to a state hospital facility requires the approval of the local mental health and mental retardation authority.  That authority in Hale Countyis the Central Plains Center.

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Confinement in a Private Facility

A patient may also be confined in a private mental health facility at the expense of the patient or his or her family.  In order to obtain an order for confinement in a private facility, the patient’s family or other interested person seeking the order would have to provide proof to the County Attorney’s Office that a bed is available in the facility.

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Substance Abuse Commitments

The law does provide that a person who has such a severe substance abuse problem (alcohol or drugs) that it renders the person a danger to himself or others may be ordered committed to a rehabilitation facility similar to the orders described above for mental health patients.  The facilities known of by the County Attorney’s Office, however, require the patient to complete a pre-admission screening and do not provide secure confinement for the patient.  Therefore, a patient who wishes to leave treatment may do so freely.  Because of these issues, substance abuse commitment orders are rarely sought and are not generally effective.  Again, persons seeking commitment for a friend or relative in a private facility need to provide proof that a bed is available in that facility.

 

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DISCLAIMER

The information provided on this web page is intended for informational purposes only.  Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice.  No warranty is made as to the accuracy or correctness of any information contained on this web page.  Every legal problem has a unique set of facts and circumstances behind it.  Persons seeking legal advice should contact their own attorney for that advice and should not rely on anything presented herein.