Mental Health Court

The Mental Health Court (MHC) is a dedicated court, with an assigned presiding judge, mental health professional, and probation staff with mental health expertise, prosecutor and public defender.

A person eighteen years of age or older may be ordered by the court to comply with mental health treatment. If ordered to treatment, the person may be ordered to inpatient treatment at a hospital, or to outpatient treatment in a community based clinic, or combination of inpatient and outpatient treatment. Treatment may also include provisions such as taking medication prescribed by the provider.
  1. Involuntary Evaluation
  2. Court Ordered Treatment
  3. Rights, Restrictions & Renewal
  4. Related Documents

Application for Involuntary Evaluation


Any responsible individual may submit an application for involuntary evaluation of a person who is alleged to be, as a result of a mental disorder, a danger to self or to others, persistently or acutely disabled, or gravely disabled and who is unwilling or unable to undergo a voluntary evaluation. The responsible individual submitting an application for involuntary evaluation may be someone such as a family member, case manager, or any other person in the community. The responsible individual must present facts to support the allegations made in the application.

Application for Emergency Admission
An application for involuntary evaluation may be accompanied by an application for emergency admission if the person is an immediate danger to self or others. An emergency application may be submitted when the proposed patient is likely to suffer serious physical harm or serious illness or is likely to inflict serious physical harm upon anther individual if not immediately hospitalized. The application for emergency admission must state the specific nature of the danger and a summary of the observations upon which the statement of danger is based.

Pre-petition Screening


The application for involuntary evaluation is submitted to a health care agency that conducts a pre-petition screening of the allegedly mentally disordered person. The screening agency reviews the allegations presented in the application, gathers relevant information, and conducts an interview with the person if possible. The screening agency then determines if there is reasonable cause to believe that the person is, as a result of a mental disorder, a danger to self or to others, is persistently and acutely disabled, or is gravely disabled and if the proposed patient is unable or unwilling to receive an evaluation on a voluntary basis. If reasonable cause exists, an examiner from the screening agency may file a petition for court ordered evaluation subjecting the person to a mental health evaluation. The petition for court evaluation may be conducted on an outpatient basis or the court may require the person be hospitalized for the evaluation.

Petition for Court Ordered Evaluation
Again, the screening agency reviews the allegations presented in the application(s), gathers relevant information, and conducts an interview with the person. The screening agency then determines if there is reasonable cause to believe that the person is, as a result of a mental disorder, a danger to self or to others, is persistently and acutely disabled, or is gravely disabled and if the person is unable or unwilling to receive an evaluation on a voluntary basis. If reasonable cause exists, an examiner from the screening agency may file a petition for court ordered evaluation subjecting the proposed patient to a mental health evaluation.

Court Application & Petition Review


The court reviews the petition for court ordered evaluation filed by the examiner, the supporting application for court ordered evaluation and application for emergency admission or prescreen report. If reasonable cause exists to believe the person is, as a result of a mental disorder, a danger to self or to others, is persistently and acutely disabled, or is gravely disabled and if the person is unable or unwilling to receive an evaluation on a voluntary basis, the court issues a detention order for involuntary hospitalization and evaluation. The court appoints legal counsel for the person at the time the detention order is signed.

Physician Determination & Recommendation
During the course of the evaluation, at least two physicians must meet with the person and conduct an exploration of the person's present mental condition, review records and past psychiatric history, and consider circumstances leading up to the person’s current presentation. The physicians must determine if the person is in need of treatment because the person, as a result of a mental disorder, is a danger to self or others, persistently or acutely disabled, or gravely disabled. The physicians must also determine if the person is willing or able to accept treatment voluntarily. The evaluating physician may recommend immediate treatment for the person, including medication, but the person maintains the right to refuse treatment during the time of the evaluation.