Civil commitment

The prepetition screening program provides an impartial and in-depth clinical assessment of a person who is at risk of being committed, based on mental illness, chemical dependency, or developmental disabilities.

Guided by state law, the prepetition screening team must conduct a thorough investigation of the proposed patient’s situation before any petition for commitment can be filed.

The team includes staff from multidisciplinary backgrounds, including chemical health counselors, psychiatric social workers, clinical psychologists, and registered nurses.

The program is mandated to:

  • Facilitate the commitment process by working with the patient, treatment community, county attorney’s office, and family members
  • Assess whether the patient’s situation meets the criteria for commitment
  • Divert patients from the commitment process by assisting in the development of a less-restrictive alternative
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What to expect

For information or to  initiate a petition, call our office at 612-348-2787.

Procedure

An interested person (a petitioner) must contact our office to begin the process. A medical doctor, a licensed doctoral-level psychologist, or an advanced practice registered nurse who has evaluated the proposed patient in person within the last 15 days must sign and submit an examiner’s statement that supports the commitment.

Prepetition screening program staff are authorized by statute to review all relevant data and to interview the people who have knowledge of the proposed patient’s situation.

The team will interview the proposed patients, petitioners, family members, service providers, and other concerned people. They will review pertinent documents and records, attempt to determine if a less restrictive alternative to commitment is available, and consult with a team of other prepetition screening professionals to make recommendations.

If the request for a petition is supported, they will prepare a report to the county attorney, outlining the less restrictive options that have been attempted and failed.

Next, if the petition is supported

The report is submitted to the County Attorney’s office for review. Within three working days, the court typically holds a probable cause hearing to determine if the person should continue to be held pending a final hearing to determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

At the first hearing, the patient will be examined by a court examiner, who will be a doctoral-level psychologist or psychiatrist. During the court process, options less restrictive than commitment will be reviewed and considered by all parties.

A petition for commitment will not be supported if there is a lack of substantial harm to self or others, if a less restrictive plan is devised that will meet the proposed patient’s basic treatment needs, or if the patient is willing to cooperate with treatment.

Next, if the petition is not supported

The petitioner may appeal the decision. The screen­er provides the county attorney with documentation outlining the rationale for the decision not to proceed. 

The county attorney makes the decision whether or not to file the petition, the communicates that decision back to the petitioner.

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