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Civil Commitment Court

402 University Ave E.
St. Paul, MN 55130-4400

Before the Commitment Hearing

How do I request (petition) that someone be committed?

File a petition with the court at the address above. The petition document is not available as a form provided by the court, but must be drafted by the petitioner(s) or their attorney.

More often the process begins with a hospital administrator requesting commitment through the Ramsey County Attorney's office. It is recommended that you discuss possible commitment with Ramsey County Human Services.

For what reasons are people committed?

Mental Illness, developmental disability, or chemical dependency. Mental Illness is further divided into those who present a physical and/or sexual danger to the public.

For more information on specific types of commitment visit the Civil Commitment page on the Ramsey County Attorney site or the Civil Commitment page of the MN Law Library.

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Who can submit a petition?

Generally, petitions are submitted by a hospital administrator working with the Ramsey County Attorney. It is allowed, but rarely is a petition started by a family member or other concerned party.

What happens once a petition is submitted?

The petition and documents are forwarded to a Ramsey County pre-petition screening team, which investigates. If the petition passes the pre-screening process and a review by the County Attorney, the matter may be set on the court calendar for hearing.

For more information on the petition process, visit the Civil Commitment page on the Ramsey County Attorney site.

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If I am the person who may be committed, am I entitled to an attorney?

Yes. The court will appoint an attorney to represent you unless you hire/retain your own attorney.

Can someone voluntarily commit himself/herself?

Yes. If the commitment process has started, you can discuss this option with your attorney. If there is no case in the Commitment Court, there are crisis centers and other resources that you may want to contact.

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At the Commitment Hearing

What has to happen in court to result in commitment?

After due process and input from medical professionals, the court must make a finding pursuant to statute.

For information on the standards required for commitment, review statutes 253B and 253D as outlined on the MN Office of the Revisor of Statues.

After the Commitment Hearing

How long does a commitment last?

If any outcome involves commitment, the matter is by law reviewed every six months unless the individual is determined to be dangerous, in which case the length of commitment is indeterminate.

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Where do committed individuals go?

Most patients are committed to either a public or private hospital for treatment; the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center serves as a back-up location. Patients determined to be dangerous may go to the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter or Moose Lake.

Can someone be released from the care facility before their commitment expires?

The treatment center issues provisional discharges when it is determined that the committed person (respondent) can be released under certain guidelines. The respondent is required to follow the guidelines set down by the treatment facility or they will be returned to custody.

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How do I expunge the commitment from my record?

File a Motion to Seal Records with Commitment Court. There are specific procedures that you must follow.

For information and forms for this procedure, visit the Commitment Forms page of the State Judicial web site.

How can I get copies of commitment records?

Submit a record request to Civil Records. There is a copy fee. Records may not be available to you if they are confidential.

For more information, visit the Civil Records page of this site or call their office at 651-266-8263.

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***ELECTRONIC FILING AND SERVICE WILL BEGIN  ON JUNE 3, 2013, FOR 2ND JUDICIAL DISTRICT COMMITMENT CASES.  After that date, all reports and filings must be submitted electronically.  For training and information go to http://www.mncourts.gov/district/2/efile 


 Ramsey County Civil Commitment Court Location


402 University Ave E, Suite 100 (1st Floor)
(Corner of Olive St and University Ave)
St. Paul, MN 55130

Link to more information

Phone: 651-266-2804

Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday
Closed Legal Holidays

The Civil Commitment Court has the obligation of committing persons to treatment centers with the allegation of Mental Illness, Developmental Disabilty, Chemical Dependency, Psychopathic Personality and referrals from Criminal Court. The civil commitment process is governed by Minnesota Statutes 253B.

Types of Commitments

The six types of civil 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 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;
  • Persons Mentally Ill and Dangerous to the Public (MI&D) - Persons that are mentally ill and as a result, have caused or intended to cause serious physical harm to another and are likely to take such action in the future;
  • Sexual Psychopathic Personalities (SPP) - Persons who have an utter lack of power to control their sexual impulses as the result of a mental disorder and therefore pose a danger to the public;
  • Sexually Dangerous Persons (SDP) - Persons who have a mental disorder who have engaged in and are likely to continue to engage in harmful sexual conduct.
Petition Process

The civil commitment process begins with a request to file a petition for commitment. Generally, either a family member or the treating hospital 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 six 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 County 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 Civil Commitment Unit of the County Attorney's Office.

An Assistant 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's Office approves the petition, the matter is set for a pretrial hearing.

Once a petition is filed for the commitment of a patient, an attorney is selected from a pre-appointed panel to represent the patient throughout the commitment process. The patient also has the option of hiring their own private attorney. This attorney is an advocate for the patient's interests and informs the patient about the commitment process and the law.

Court Process

The court process consists of three statutorily required hearings, beginning with the preliminary hearing. This 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 himself or others. If the court finds that there is an imminent danger, the patient is held in a secure facility.

The court then appoints an examiner and the patient may select a second examiner to conduct a pre-hearing examination. These licensed professionals examine the patient and submit reports to the court with their recommendations concerning commitment. These examinations are independent of those done by the staff at the treating hospital.

After completing the above examinations, the case is heard by a judge in a full judicial hearing. The petitioner, through their counsel 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, regarding the level of treatment needed by the patient. The judge may dismiss the petition completely or may structure a treatment plan that the patient agrees to comply with. If necessary, the court may 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 is held to determine that this action is appropriate. This hearing is often known as a Jarvis hearing.

Most patients are committed to either a public or private hospital for treatment with the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center serving as a back-up location. Most initial commitment periods cannot exceed 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. However, in cases involving Mentally Ill and Dangerous Persons, Sexual Psychopathic Personalities, or Sexually Dangerous Persons, commitment is of an indefinite duration. Periodic reviews are conducted by the court to determine whether the initial commitment remains valid.