The county attorney files involuntary commitment actions to provide necessary treatment for individuals. The three main types of commitment proceedings are:
- Mentally Ill persons (MI)-Persons that are mentally ill and as a result, pose a danger to themselves or others;
- Developmentally Disabled persons (DD)-Persons that are DD (Developmentally Disabled) and as a result, pose a danger to themselves or others;
- Chemically Dependent persons (CD)-Persons that are chemically dependent, unable to manage personal affairs, and as a result, pose a danger to themselves or others.
The civil commitment process begins with a request to file a petition for commitment. Generally, a family member, law enforcement officer or social worker serves as the petitioner. The petitioner requests that the patient be placed involuntarily under the care and supervision of a hospital or regional treatment center because of one of the reasons discussed above. This request for petition and all of the attachments that describe the patient’s recent behavior and reasons supporting commitment are forwarded to the pre-petition screening team. This team reviews the petition, investigates the allegations, interviews the patient and other interested persons and reviews the patient’s records. After collecting and reviewing all relevant information, the team determines whether to continue the commitment process. If the team rejects the petition, it is sent back to the petitioner who may appeal this decision directly to the county attorney’s office. If the team recommends commitment, it drafts a report summarizing all of its investigations and submits this to the county attorney’s office.
The county attorney reviews the petition, all the attachments, and the pre-petition screening report to insure that all of the requirements necessary for a valid commitment are met and that there is sufficient evidence to prove the underlying behaviors and that commitment is the least restrictive alternative available to the patient. If the county attorney approves the petition, an attorney is appointed to represent the patient and the matter is set for a preliminary hearing.
The preliminary hearing provides an opportunity for a voluntary agreement to be entered into by all the parties that may eliminate the need for further hearings. If a settlement is not reached, the court determines whether the patient presents an imminent danger to themselves or others. If the court finds that there is an imminent danger, the patient is held in a secure facility until the final hearing.
The final hearing is a full judicial hearing. The petitioner, through the county attorney, calls witnesses and submits evidence showing that all of the requirements for commitment have been satisfactorily met. The patient is then allowed to submit evidence to show that he or she does not meet the conditions necessary for commitment, or that there is a less restrictive alternative available for them. The judge then makes a determination, based on all of the evidence. The judge may dismiss the petition completely, structure a treatment plan that the patient agreed to comply with, or commit the patient to a treating hospital under the care and supervision of the court and the hospital.
In extreme cases, the court may even order a patient to receive medications that the patient does not wish to receive. This only occurs after a separate hearing, known as a Jarvis hearing, is held to determine that this action is appropriate. The initial period of commitment is for six months. After six months, the court is required to review the matter following a full trial hearing, and decide whether to extend the commitment up to a maximum of twelve months.
To report a situation that may require involuntary commitment due to mental illness, chemical dependency or mental retardation, call Roseau County Social Services at (218) 463-2411.
Additional Resources -Chemical Dependence
- Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
- National Center for Substance Abuse Research
- National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information