Any person may ask the county to do an investigation into whether someone is in need of commitment. Often times, it is the hospital where someone might be staying or receiving care that makes this request. When requested, a county screening team gathers information about the person’s condition and decides whether to recommend a commitment to the County Attorney, who, based on the screening information, may prepare a petition for commitment and file it with the court.
Once a petition is filed with the court, a preliminary hearing is scheduled within 72 hours (not counting weekends and legal holidays). The court will appoint an attorney to represent the person involved in the commitment petition throughout the process, unless that person hires their own attorney.
After due process and input from medical professionals, the court must make a decision about whether someone should be committed or not. As part of this process, the judge considers whether the requirements for commitment under the law have been met and whether there is a less restrictive alternative.
If the judge commits someone to treatment, it is typically for a six month period. The case is then reviewed with a hearing to determine whether the commitment should be extended. The exception to this is cases involving Mentally Ill and Dangerous Persons, Sexual Psychopathic Personalities, or Sexually Dangerous Persons. In those cases, there is not an end date to the commitment period; instead, periodic reviews are conducted by the court to determine whether the commitment continues to be necessary.
If you want to ask the court to expunge or seal your records from Commitment Court so that the general public cannot view them, you can file a Motion to Seal the Records.