The Baker Act is an important tool to be utilized when some is in crisis. Used appropriately this tool can save lives. The intent of this educational series is to assist people with learning how to navigate the Baker Act process and to decrease a facility's ability to take advantage of a person, especially children, resulting in traumatic experiences and fear of seeking help when a person needs it most or just needs help period.
When a Baker Act is initiated, law enforcement will transport the person to the receiving facility. Part of law-enforcement's protocol is to handcuff the person even though they are NOT being arrested or detained.
When law enforcement initiates a Baker Act, it is sometimes used in place of an arrest.
Once law enforcement drops an individual off at a receiving facility, they have no control over what happens from there. When law enforcement tells a person that they only have to go to the facility for a few hours, they are making an accurate statement.
A common misunderstanding is when the 72-hour clock starts.
Another common misunderstanding is that the evaluation is complete at that point. The way the law is written, it allows for an evaluation period UP to 72 hours.
The Baker Act specifically states that when a person no longer meets the Baker Act criteria, they must be released.
Because involuntary commitment is an enforced hold, a person is unable to release themselves and walk out of the facility. They cannot be discharged without documented approval of a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.