A person can be detained and treated involuntarily under the criteria presented in WIC sections 5150, 5250, 5260, 5300, 5352.1, 5350, and 4011.6. Under WIC 5150 a person may be involuntarily taken to a mental health facility for psychiatric evaluation. This evaluation can last up to 72 hours. During this period, only a doctor may discharge the person.

These are the three criteria that meet the requirements for involuntary detention:

  1. The person presents a danger to him/herself.
  2. The person presents a danger to others.
  3. The person is incapacitated to the point of being gravely disabled. That means the person cannot provide for their own food, clothing, and/or shelter, or cannot make use of the food, clothing, and shelter available to him/her.

One or any combination of the above may be the reason for detaining an individual for an evaluation. These criteria apply only as a result of mental disorder. After the 72-hour evaluation period, a psychiatrist may petition for treatment up to an additional 14 days. The psychiatrist must file a “5250” or “certification for up to 14 days of intensive psychiatric treatment” with superior court. By law, the client must receive a copy of this certification.

The client is then entitled to an automatic hearing called a certification review hearing. This hearing is informal and a Patients’ Rights advocate from the Patients’ Rights Advocacy office represents the client.

At any point during an involuntary detention, a person may request a writ of habeas corpus. This is not automatic, and a request must be filed with the public defender.

It is important to remember that at any point during a 14-day hold, a person may be discharged based on physician’s discretion. A certification can last up to 14 days.