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Baker & Marchman Acts

Receiving Facility for Baker & Marchman Acts

The Vines Hospital is a designated Baker Act and Marchman Act receiving facility under the Florida Mental Health Law. A person can be taken to a Baker Act receiving facility for an involuntary examination if there is reason to believe they are mentally ill, because they have refused an exam or if they cannot determine whether an exam is necessary. People can be “Baker Acted” if they are a serious danger to themselves or others, or if they are likely to suffer from neglect or harm if current behavior continues.

Baker Act Facts

The Baker Act is the informal name for the Florida Mental Health Act (FS 394). It includes:

  • Definitions of mental health terms, services and treatment programs
  • Descriptions of where and how treatment should be offered to children and adults
  • Differences between patients who are voluntary and those who are involuntary
  • Procedures for admitting, transferring and discharging patients between facilities
  • Patient rights and grievance procedures
  • Rules regarding patient transportation

Baker Act Rules

  • Patients who are able to give express and informed consent can be admitted as voluntary patients. These are individuals who make a knowing and willful decision for treatment without any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress or other forms of constraint or coercion.
  • A person can be taken to a receiving facility for an involuntary examination if there is reason to believe he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness has refused an exam or is unable to determine whether an exam is necessary. Persons can be “Baker Acted” if they are a serious danger to self or others, or if they are likely to suffer from neglect or harm if current behavior continues.

A certificate for an involuntary examination may be initiated by any one of the following:

  • An ex parte order from the court
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Physicians
  • Licensed clinical psychologists
  • Psychiatric nurses
  • Licensed clinical social workers

Suggestions From a Receiving Facility

  • If you anticipate a patient will be coming to the Vines Hospital, please call ahead to alert the admissions staff. They will review clinical information and get approval for the admission.
  • Within a few minutes, you will be notified if it is appropriate to transfer the patient to the Vines Hospital or another facility. Remember, involuntary patients MUST go to the nearest receiving facility. Staff will be happy to help you get the patient to the appropriate place for help.
  • Be prepared. The original BA52 form MUST accompany the patient. Before calling law enforcement to transport, call the Vines Hospital for an approval to admit and then FAX us the patient’s face sheet and BA52.

Quick Reference Guide for Law Enforcement

The Baker Act empowers law enforcement officers to initiate an involuntary evaluation of someone if they exhibit any of the following conditions:

  • They are mentally ill.
  • They are either a danger to themselves or to others.
  • Without treatment, they are likely to suffer from neglect.

It can be hard to know whether you should “Baker Act” someone. You want to be a responsible officer and do the right thing to protect individuals and those nearby, but you are not sure if you should take a person to jail or take them to a Baker Act receiving facility.

This guide has been developed by the Mental Health Coalition of Pinellas County to help you make that decision in the field. We have outlined some common behaviors of those in crisis and summarized important things to know.

Key Points for Involuntary Admissions

1. Your role is not to diagnose but if you have reason to believe someone appears mentally ill, you can decide if that person may be putting himself or herself or others in danger and meets the criteria for a complete evaluation.

2. You do not need to witness all the behaviors personally. You can consider credible eyewitness accounts from others as you determine the need for further assessment.

3. Officers must complete two forms when initiating the Baker Act: Report of Law Enforcement Officer Initiating Involuntary Examination (CF-MH 3052a), and Transportation to Receiving Facility–Part I (CF-MH 3100).

Look Out for These Behaviors

  • Behaviors: rapid speech, flight of thought, no eye contact, quick movements, disconnected speech patterns, constant moving or pacing, concentration issues, erratic mood changes, disorganized thoughts, disorientation to time or place, acts of violence, self-harm, combative or aggressive behavior, inappropriate dress or nudity
  • Hallucinations: sees people who aren’t there, hears voices telling them to hurt themselves or others, reports that the television is suggesting harm to others, turning the head as if listening to an unseen person
  • Self-care issues: insomnia or increased sleep, has not eaten for days, not taking prescribed medications, home in disarray, neglects property or personal hygiene to the point of putting self or others at risk
  • Feelings: low self-esteem with feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, actions lack feeling or interest
  • Suicidal risks: has weapons or access to weapons, speaks about previous attempts, makes direct comments about dying or self-harm, evidence of previous attempts such as scars on wrists
  • Elderly issues: wandering at night, leaving things on the stove unattended, not eating or sleeping or caring for personal needs, unrealistic fears, uncontrollable anxiety, confusion, quantity and age of unused food at home
  • Substance abuse: abuse of prescribed medications, use of alcohol or illegal substances while taking medications

*If substance abuse appears to be the only issue, the Marchman Act may be more appropriate.

NOTE: If you have any doubts, don’t forget to contact your CIT Officers (crisis intervention training) or one of the receiving facilities.

Take the First Step Today

We are available 24/7 at 866-671-3130 to schedule no-cost assessments and answer questions. In case of medical emergency, dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

You may also reach us with our online contact form.