Mental Health Commitments
Involuntary Commitment is a legal procedure by which a person is placed in the custody of the State Department of Mental Health for long-term treatment. This is done only if necessary, and after every effort is made to provide treatment for the person on a voluntary basis. In order to meet the criteria for involuntary commitment, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the person is has a serious mental illness and poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to self or others.
For more information about treatment options or to begin the process for filing a Petition for Involuntary Commitment, please call (205) 651-0077 to speak to the Probate Court Liaison. In the event of an emergency, call 911.
Involuntary Commitments Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS AN INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT?
An involuntary commitment is a procedure whereby a person is involuntarily placed in the custody of the Alabama Department of Mental Health for treatment.
WHAT PROCEDURE IS USED TO INITIATE AN INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT?
Any person may seek to have another person committed by filing a petition with the Probate Court.
- Name and address of the petitioner; and
- Name and location of defendant's spouse, attorney or next of kin; and
- That petitioner has reason to believe defendant is mentally ill; and
- Petitioner's beliefs are based on specific behavior, acts, attempts or threats which are described in detail; and
- Names and addresses of the other people with knowledge of the defendant's illness or who observed the person's overt acts and who may be called as his witnesses.
MUST THERE BE A HEARING?
Yes, a hearing is to be held by Probate Judge without a jury and it is open to the public unless requested otherwise by the defendant. Commitment is granted only if the elements required are established by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence.
WHAT ARE THE RESULTS OF THE HEARING?
If a commitment petition is granted, the order shall be entered for outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment. The least restrictive alternative necessary and available for the treatment of the respondent’s mental illness shall be ordered. Inpatient treatment may be ordered at a state or a designated mental health facility. Outpatient treatment may be ordered at a designated mental health facility if said facility consents to treat the respondent on an outpatient basis.
This information page, which is based on Alabama law, is to inform and not to advise. No person should ever apply or interpret any law without the aid of a lawyer who analyzes the facts, because the facts may change the application of the law.