Let’s Fix The Marchman Act

June 20, 2017
At Drug And Alcohol Attorneys, our practice is exclusively focused on helping individuals and families who are in crisis because of drug and alcohol addiction. The Marchman Act is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to solving the issue of addiction. With that said, there are parts of the Marchman Act which need legislative attention, the most serious of which are addressed below.    The process must be faster (much faster)    Hypothetically speaking, if I receive a call from a distraught mom at 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday night, her daughter having come to Florida for treatment from another State, I can be retained, interview the client, and draft and file a Petition for Assessment, Stabilization and Detox before midnight. However, somewhere in the mix of the Clerk of Court, the Judicial System, and law enforcement, a Pick Up Order likely will not get executed when it is needed, the next day (Friday). By Monday morning, when law enforcement is ready, willing and able to execute the Pick Up Order, it’s too late. The daughter is nowhere to be found. This hypothetical is the type of scenario I experience all too often and is desperately frustrating for a parent who has been referred to me and I can’t get them the help they desperately need. The simple fact remains that we need more clerks and judges and law enforcement officers receiving, reviewing and executing Pickup Orders if we are to move rapidly and save lives. Same day turnaround should be the norm when an ex parte Petition for Assessment, Stabilization and Detox has been filed, not the exception.      The Enforcement Process is Too Cumbersome    When an individual (the Respondent) is ordered into treatment, unless he or she is ordered into a hospital setting, which tends to be more secure than a regular treatment center, they are free to walk out against medical advice. The appropriate legal remedy when that occurs is to petition the Court for a Rule to Show Cause which, before being heard by the Court, must be served on the Respondent … who just walked out of treatment and cannot be located. While we recommend the filing of a Missing Person’s Report, unless the location of the Respondent is known, law enforcement will not go looking for them unless foul play is suspected. They just don’t have the man power.   When a Defendant in a criminal case is arrested and goes before a judge to address the issue of pre-trial release, he or she can be ordered to wear an ankle monitor so that his or her location is known and can be restricted, usually to their home. If they leave or remove the device, law enforcement is immediately notified and can effectuate an arrest. Why is this or similar technology not being used in the Marchman Act process? When an individual leaves treatment, not only must law enforcement be notified immediately, they must also be able to track, locate, pick up that individual, and either take them into custody, or in the event they have used opioids, take them to a secure detox facility. Respondents who are ordered into treatment have been judicially determined to be incapable of making a rational decision to go into treatment. These

“In case of emergency, break glass.”

June 14, 2017
You may have heard the saying, “In case of emergency, break glass.” That’s typically the case when a family reaches out to attorney Mark Astor and they have a loved one who’s struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and they’ve run out of ideas and ways to help them. They’ve reached the point where they believe there’s no help in sight, they’re in emotional crisis, and that’s when they call Mark.   We have access to lots of resources and we also offer a free consultation. So if you sit down with me, I’ll give you some options and counsel you as to what I think is the best course of action that you can take to help the person get into recovery and get their life back on track. Whether it’s filing a Marchman Act petition, which will involuntarily compel the individual to get treatment, a guardianship, so you can make decisions for them while they’re incapacitated or in treatment, defending against criminal charges, access to the appropriate treatment center, or an interventionist, at Drug And Alcohol Attorneys we focus on helping those suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders get back in the game of life. Combined, we’ve been working in the justice system for over fifty years, we understand the struggle you’re facing, we’ll work with your family to clean up the wreckage of the past so you and your loved one can build a better future. 

The Forgotten Twins Of The Marchman Act

June 1, 2017
While I’ve previously argued that the Marchman Act is the “best kept secret” in the midst of the opioid crisis, it’s the method of initiation that’s the topic of this blog post. The Marchman Act is a bifurcated process (there are two stages that must be completed for an individual to ultimately be ordered into treatment). The first stage is one of detox, stabilization and assessment, and comes in three flavors: 1) Petition, 2) Emergency, and 3) Protective Custody. Emergency Admission and Protective Custody do not require the filing of a petition and do not involve the judicial system. There is no review for legal sufficiency, unless a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is filed. PETITION The process of detox, stabilization and assessment may be initiated by the filing of a petition with the Court. The petition, in the case of an adult, can be filed by the respondent’s spouse or legal guardian, any relative, a service provider, or an adult who has direct personal knowledge of the respondent’s substance abuse impairment and his or her prior course of assessment and treatment. In the case of minor, it may be filed by a parent, legal guardian, or service provider. The petition, filed by either an attorney (the better way to proceed) or by a pro sepetitioner (not the better way to proceed), is reviewed by the Court for legal sufficiency. If legally sufficient, the Court can then issue a pick up order, essentially ordering law enforcement to seize the Respondent and take him or her to a designated facility for detox, stabilization and assessment. EMERGENCY Emergency admission, which does not involve the filing of a petition, can be initiated by any “professional” who issues a Professionals Certificate, the person’s spouse or legal guardian, any relative of the person, or any other responsible adult who has personal knowledge of the person’s substance abuse impairment. In the case of a minor, it’s the minor’s parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian. “Qualified professional” includes a physician or a physician’s assistant, a clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, mental health counselor, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, or a person who is certified through a department-recognized certification process for substance abuse treatment services and who holds, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. The Certificate of Emergency Admission must be specific to substance abuse impairment and be accompanied with an application for emergency admission. The professional’s certificate must include the name of the person to be admitted, the relationship between the person and the professional executing the certificate, the relationship between the applicant and the professional, any relationship between the professional and the licensed service provider, a statement that the person has been examined and assessed within the preceding 5 days after the application date, and factual allegations with respect to the need for emergency admission. The professional’s certificate is valid for 7 days after issuance and authorizes a receiving facility to hold an adult or minor for 72 hours to conduct the assessment. PROTECTIVE CUSTODY Protective custody, like the Emergency process, does not involve the filing of a petition. It may be initiated by a law enforcement officer when a minor or an adult, who appears to meet the involuntary admission criteria, and: (1) the individual’s conduct is brought to the attention of law

The Opioid Crisis:
A Potential Solution

May 22, 2017
THE PRIVATE SECTOR ISN’T THE PROBLEM IN THE OPIOID CRISIS. IT MAY BE THE SOLUTION Palm Beach County is the drug treatment capital of America, if not the world. For the past several months, there have been daily reports of deaths and overdoses. Some argue that the threat posed by terrorism pales in comparison to the threat posed by the opioid crisis. That being said, Florida Governor, Rick Scott, has recently declared a State of Emergency, reportedly giving the State access to $27 million in Federal funds. Some have argued that we should use the money to make more “county” beds available to treat addicts. Perhaps we should consider re-opening facilities such as the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Drug Farm. While county facilities should be granted access to the funds, I submit that the private sector, despite arrests for insurance fraud and patient brokering, is the solution. There are beds available immediately, and the will and knowledge to treat patients. When it comes to the private sector successfully working in partnership with Government to solve a community issue, look no further than the pre-school industry. For close to 20 years my parents successfully owned and operated a chain of pre-schools, all regulated and licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), which also regulates and licenses drug treatment facilities in Florida. My parents were responsible for educating thousands of children in Palm Beach County, but after the crash of 2008, they almost lost everything, many families finding themselves unable to afford pre-school. The business was saved when the State and County stepped in and subsidized tuition so children could go to school with their families paying the remaining balance based on income. While tuition payments were always one month in arrears, they were always paid. It takes seven to ten days to detox an individual who is addicted to drugs and alcohol before treatment can begin. Even when insurance coverage is available to pay for treatment, many treatment centers complain that insurance will only pay for 30 days of treatment, hardly enough to cure someone who’s been addicted to drugs and alcohol for many years, and who may also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. What happens when there is no insurance coverage or cash pay available? Treatment must be available to everyone, regardless of insurance and financial status. This is my plan to accomplish this goal: First, the emergency funds need to be made available to private “for profit” treatment centers. A list needs to be compiled of all treatment centers which would be good candidates to accept government subsidized patients. Centers with significant disciplinary issues, or where there has been insurance fraud, may not be good candidates. Second, of the eligible centers, a list needs to be compiled of those that will accept patients at a reduced payment rate, knowing that payment is guaranteed (which is better than having to fight with an insurance company and still having to take less money), should be an incentive.

Why You Need a Drug and Alcohol Attorney

May 15, 2017
America is fighting a war on drugs and if you are caught with an illegal substance, you can literally become a prisoner of war. Likewise, if you are pulled over for DUI and found to have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit, you may also be facing jail time and harsh penalties. If you are charged with any type of drug or alcohol related crime, you will need an attorney who will fearlessly defend you and fight for your freedom. “Drug and alcohol convictions in Florida, even minor ones, are serious business. The effects of the experience can change your life forever and derail you from your dreams. This is why it is essential you work with experienced attorneys who can help you navigate the complexities of the court system.” says Drug and Alcohol attorney, Mark Astor. If you are arrested for drugs or DUI, your driving privileges, job, voting rights and even custody of your children can be at stake.  Drug and Alcohol Attorneys have been helping Florida residents fight drug and alcohol charges for years.  They understand the court system and can protect your rights and help you avoid a lifetime of misery from one mistake

To blow or not to blow, that is the question

April 26, 2017
As a Drug and Alcohol attorney who helps individuals and families navigate the legal system to take advantage of the Marchman Act (Florida’s involuntary commitment statute for drug and alcohol disorders), I also represent people that have been arrested for drug or alcohol related offenses. One of the offenses that I most frequently get retained on is DUI.  As such, the question I get asked more often than any is whether or not the client should or should not have taken the breath test.  Based on my twenty-two (22) years of experience handling these cases, this is my personal opinion, other attorneys may have a different opinion.  This only applies to Florida DUI cases, the laws may be different in other states. Before I share my thoughts with you, let me say that you should never drink and drive, period.  There is no excuse for having a drink, even one drink, and getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.  With the advent of Uber and Lyft, a safe ride home is just a click away.  There is no excuse for endangering your life or the lives of others when you’ve had a drink and plan to get behind the wheel.  Ditto if you’re under the influence of drugs or medication that affect your ability to drive a motor vehicle (most prescription meds warn about the dangers of mixing meds and alcohol).  As someone who’s had a family member killed by a drunk driver, I say this in the strongest terms possible.  Nevertheless, I take my oath of attorney very seriously and we always do the best job possible for our clients. If you are stopped by the police, you have an absolute right to remain silent and not answer any questions about how much you’ve had to drink or where you’ve come from.  This applies even though the officer will likely not tell you that you have the right to remain silent (the US Supreme Court has ruled that a person stopped for an “ordinary” traffic stop is not in custody for purposes of Miranda).  So, be polite, tell the officer(s) you intend to remain silent on the advice of counsel and produce your documents when asked to do so. If the officer smells booze on your breath, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re taking a ride downtown to the local county jail (you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride).  As such, it is likely that you will be asked to perform roadside sobriety tasks/exercises as part of the officer’s evidence gathering process.  You have an absolute right to refuse to do the tasks, although you will not be told that is the case.  Do not perform the roadside tasks, ever.  You’re almost certainly being arrested anyway. Subsequent to your “lawful” arrest, you will be asked to submit to a breath test.  The sanction for either blowing over the legal limit or refusing to take the breath test is outlined below.  Keep in mind that this is purely an administrative sanction and is separate and apart from the criminal sanctions you face for

DUI and pills don’t mix

January 27, 2017
Roger David Hyman Posted: 1:29 p.m. Tuesday, January 17, 2017 A Palm Beach man was arrested early Monday on charges of driving under the influence and felony drug possession, according to Palm Beach police. Roger David Hyman, 61, was pulled over after an officer noticed his vehicle swerving frequently and driving over the curb at one point, a police report said. The officer started following Hyman’s vehicle at 5:05 a.m. Monday in the 200 block of North County Road. The report stated that when the officer pulled him over, Hyman was lethargic and his T-shirt was inside out. The report said several loose Oxycodone and Xanax pills were found in the vehicle and in a cigarette carton that Hyman had in his pants. Hyman is charged with possession of a Schedule IV drug and possession of a Schedule II drug, both felonies, in connection with the pills, the report said. He also is charged with misdemeanor DUI. Hyman was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on $3,000 bond shortly after 2 p.m. Monday. He could not be reached for comment. His court date has not been scheduled, according to court records.  

Two Suicides in 24 Hours in Flagler as County Officials Seek Renewed Focus on Mental Health

January 27, 2017
FLAGLERLIVE | JANUARY 11, 2017     On Tuesday, Steven J. Fortier, a 27-year-old resident of Spruce Street in Bunnell, was found dead at 5060 Walnut Avenue in the Mondex, also known as Daytona North. A Waste Pro truck driver making his rounds in the area reported to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office that while picking up garbage at the intersection of Walnut and Papaya, he noticed what appeared to be a man hanging from a tree, and was unsure whether it was a mannequin or a person. He’d been at that intersection earlier in the day. He decided to go to the sheriff’s office in Bunnell, where he reported what he’d seen because, according to an incident report, it had been “bothering him all day.” Deputies responded to the area at 3 p.m. and confirmed the death of Fortier at 3:02 p.m. “Under him was a ladder that was knocked over. His hands were bound loosely in front on him with blue rope,” the incident report stated. Mark Strobridge, the sheriff’s office’s chief spokesperson, who was at the scene with Sheriff Staly later in the afternoon, said “there appears to be no indication of any type of foul play at this point.” There were two vehicles in the driveway, neither of which belonging to Fortier, who usually drove a 1997 Chevrolet. Deputies found what the incident report describes as “a large dog” in the house on Walnut, but no other residents, and no sign of struggle in the house. “However the dog had begun to rip through trash and other items,” the incident report states. Fortier on Dec. 19 had posted on his Facebook page that he had a new dog, whom he called Rocky and whose picture he posted. “While clearing the residence I observed a note stating the dog’s care instructions located above the kitchen island counter in a cabinet. On the counter under the note was a manila envelope that had a name and address and stated ‘confidential’ on it,” the deputy reported. The incident report does not detail the contents of the envelope. Fortier, according to his Facebook page, worked at Oceans Fences and Rail in Bunnell. The Medical Examiner arrived at the scene around 5:30 p.m. Police responded to the second suicide this morning at 244 Ocean Palm Drive in Flagler Beach, where 73-year-old William Dessing was reported to have killed himself by gunshot. Dessing was found by his wife, a gun in hand. She told authorities that he’d been in a lot of pain recently with back problems. He was pronounced dead at 8:48 a.m. The Medical Examiner removed the body at 1 p.m. Staly briefly referred to the suicides this morning, attending his first meeting of the Public Safety Coordinating Council as sheriff. Staly talked about the Crisis Triage and Treatment Unit grant he’d helped secure for Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare as undersheriff more than two years ago, a grant that allows deputies in Flagler to take individuals who meet the criteria of