Marchman Act Lawyer Florida | How to Get a Loved One into Rehab for Substance Abuse

Nothing’s more painful than watching a loved one struggle with substance abuse especially when they’re not willing to admit that they have a problem. When a person struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, his relationships with family and friends suffer. Your desire to help them get professional treatment may be met with hostility. Here’s a list of what you can do before you get the chance to consult a Marchman Act Lawyer Florida.

Know the Signs of Addiction

You’ll need to recognize the signs of alcohol or drug addiction. These range from marked changes in their behavior that lead to problems at home, deteriorating progress in school or issues at work. In most cases, the breaking point comes when the affected person starts to act recklessly and becomes a threat to themselves and to the people around him. The moment you see them put themselves into risky situations, it’s high time that you take a step back to evaluate the whole picture.

Look for Treatment Options

It’s important to remember that recovery isn’t the same for everyone that’s why you’ll need to research treatment options that would best work for your loved one before making a decision. You’ll need to visit treatment centers yourself to check the facilities and their upfront rates as well as to talk to the staff to get a general idea about their range of treatment and aftercare options.

Plan an Intervention

You can choose to hire a professional interventionist who has the experience and the expertise to get your loved one into rehab. A session with an interventionist is an opportunity for the addict to recognize and acknowledge how their behavior affects the people around them while ensuring him that he is loved and supported. Where is the best marchman act lawyer florida?

When to Consult a Marchman Act Lawyer Florida

If all else fails, and your loved one still refuses to get help, you’ll need to talk to a Marchman Act Lawyer Florida to help you get through the grueling process of sending the affected person to a rehab facility against his will. In case you’re not aware, Florida’s Substance Abuse Impairment Act commonly known as the Marchman Act permits an individual to be admitted for treatment for drug or alcohol abuse without the person’s consent. To know more about this, contact Drug and Alcohol Attorneys today.

Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer | Why Should You Hire an Experienced Drug Defense Lawyer?

If you were falsely charged with drug trafficking and put behind bars until lab test results are released, you’ll need an experienced Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer to speed up the process. Your chances of having the charges dropped are quite slim if a newly-trained lawyer or you would deal with these matters on your own. Here are some of the best reasons why you should get yourself an experienced Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer.

They are Better Negotiators

An experienced Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer has already established his reputation in the court. Therefore, you can be sure that his or her ability to negotiate with the judge on your case as well as with the prosecutors is more likely to be better than an inexperienced attorney. Furthermore, if you have a seasoned Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer to help you, he or she can win more motions in your behalf.

They have a Deeper Understanding of Your Case

The many years of practice that an experienced Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer has caused him or her to possess the knowledge to grasp the different facets of your case. This is extremely important since his ability to fight the charges depends on how much he understands the case he’s handling.

They Know What to do at the Right Moment

Experienced drug defense lawyers have come across numerous cases that are similar to yours. This means that they can help you meet certain timelines and deadlines with ease and review all of the evidence that the prosecution has since they’re familiar with the rules and how to implement them at the right moment of your case.

They Can Help You Understand Your Case

At times you may think that attorneys speak a whole different language. Know that even if you’re innocent, you could still lose your case if you fail to give the correct response as needed. To better understand your case and how everything works in the court, you’ll need to have someone who can translate complex legalese into layman’s terms for you. This is something an experienced Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer is good at. Where is a good boca raton drug defense lawyer?

Looking for a Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer?

You need the support of an experienced Boca Raton Drug Defense Lawyer. Contact Drug and Alcohol Attorneys today to get the help you need.

One of the tools to help a family gain control over substance abuse and mental health disorders



I am an Attorney in the Law Firm Drug and Alcohol Attorneys in Boca Raton, Florida; our firm specializes in helping families in crisis because of substance abuse and or mental health disorder. Deaths from substance abuse has reached epidemic proportions. Deaths from mental health disorders are also increasing and we only have to look in our own backyard for a school shooting. My partner Mark Astor uses the Marchman Act a legal process by which someone can be involuntarily committed for substance abuse. I use the Guardianship statute as a legal means to get someone into treatment and to be medication compliant for a mental health disorder.

It is not uncommon for either one of us to get a call in the late evening or on the weekends from a crying mother or father because they have no-where else to turn and their son or daughter is out of control. Their child is self-medicating with street drugs instead of taking their prescribed medication to treat their mental health disorder; or their child is refusing to go to treatment and had to be Baker Acted for the fifth time. These situations not only affect the person with the mental health disorder but the entire family causing disruption, chaos, and guilt.

The Guardianship statute in Florida found in Chapter 744 provides a framework for which the court will allow another person to step into the shoes of this incapacitated individual and start making decisions for him or her. More often than not, the use of the Guardianship statute starts because of an emergency situation, the alleged incapacitated individual has threatened suicide, has left Against Medical Advice from a hospitalization or treatment facility, or the individual is not eating, sleeping, bathing or has spent his or her last penny on an abusive partner. A petition for Emergency Temporary Guardianship establishes that without a Temporary Guardian being appointed the individual or “alleged incapacitated person” will be in imminent danger to his person and or property. A hearing on this Petition, depending on the county of filing, will usually occur within 48 to 72 and relief granted.

The Baker Act, a Florida involuntarily commitment statute, can often be used when someone is an immediate threat to himself or herself, but this often will not hold someone for more than 72 hours and usually the individual is released to often re-appear in the same facility a week later in the same situation. The Baker Act does not serve as a longer term means of getting someone into an inpatient long-term treatment program for a more comprehensive treatment.

The Emergency Temporary Guardianship and ultimately Permanent Guardianship, allows a family member usually the mother or father to be granted authority to consent to their son or daughter going into in-patient treatment. An Emergency Temporary Guardianship is good for up to 90 days and can be renewed for an additional 90 days. Increasingly, I have been asked by the Guardian to request an Order be granted by the Court giving the Guardian not only the authority to consent to treatment for their son or daughter but also the authority to allow them to consent to medication by injection for monthly relief so daily oral medication is not needed. Since an injection is forced upon the body a court order is usually needed before the doctor or nurse administering the prescribed medication will administer against the wishes of the alleged incapacitated person.

While no one can guarantee the outcome of any situation when it comes to mental health our firm uses the legal process to give control in an out of control situation. I have often found that eventually the individual suffering from a mental health disorder is further harmed by being continuously subject to being Baker Acted which usually requires the police taking them to a hospital. Guardianship offers a family control over their loved so that he or she can participate in long-term treatment so that he or she can learn to live with their mental health disorder and lead a healthy and productive life. If you want more information regarding Guardianship or the Marchman Act please check out or website at: www.drugandalcoholattorneys.com or call our office at 561-419-6095.

Written by Audra Simovitch, Esq.
Drug and Alcohol Attorneys
www.drugandalcholattorneys.com
January 23, 2019

Boca Raton Marchman Act Lawyer | Frequently Asked Marchman Act Questions

When it comes to the Marchman Act, it helps to have a Boca Raton Marchman Act lawyer. The process is can be very intimidating and stressful. Knowing what you need to know about the Marchman Act could be the difference in your loved one getting the help they need or not.

What Does the Marchman Act Do?

The Marchman Act is specific to the state of Florida and is an effective tool to save the lives of people who are a danger to themselves and others. If someone is deemed that sort of threat and the Marchman Act is filed, that person is then involuntarily sent to a rehab facility for up to 90 days. They are compelled to stay at the facility and be a good patient because if not, they can be held in contempt.

Is the Marchman Act Actually Effective?

Yes, the Marchman Act is very effective and truly does save lives. Often times, these are people that cannot care for themselves or help themselves when it comes to substance abuse. Most of the time, mental illness is also a factor in someone not seeking the help they need. Under the Matchman Act, these people can seek the care and counseling they need. More often than not, getting people out of their environment and breaking the cycle of addiction is enough to get them on the right path.

Who is Eligible for the Marchman Act?

The Marchman Act can only be used on those that are proven to be an immediate danger to themselves or others. A family member, loved one, or close friend files the Act with a judge and then the person is observed for up to five days. If they are deemed a threat after that, they are involuntarily put into rehab. Who is the best Boca Raton Marchman Act lawyer?

Looking for a Boca Raton Marchman Act Lawyer?

Have you been looking for a Boca Raton Marchman Act lawyer or more information about the Marchman Act? If so, contact us today. The Drug & Alcohol Attorneys are here to help you get the care your loved ones need.

Addiction Lawyer Boca Raton | Is the Opioid Crisis, at Least in Part, Man Made?

Every day we speak to families in crisis because a loved one, usually their child (18-30 years old) has a raging substance abuse problem and co-occurring mental health disorder. One startling fact we’ve noticed is that in nearly every case the child has been prescribed medication for ADHD, usually Ritalin or Adderall, in addition to medication for anxiety or depression, such Xanax. It seems that once a medication has been prescribed, and there is an endless list of them because not one size fits all and their effectiveness appears to dissipate over time, the slippery slope of addiction and substance abuse becomes much more prevalent.

It appears that genetics also play a part in the likelihood of a substance abuse disorder developing in an individual who also has ADHD. People with ADHD tend to be more impulsive and likely to have behavioral problems, both of which can contribute to drug and alcohol abuse. Also, both ADHD and alcoholism tend to run in families. A child with ADHD who has a parent with alcoholism is more likely to also develop an alcohol abuse problem than one without.

Statistics suggest that our experience may not be unusual. The number of children prescribed medication for ADHD soured from 600,000 in 1990 to 3.5 million by 2013, and that number continues to climb. Moreover, it seems that the increase in the number of prescriptions written by doctors has coincided with four (4) factors: 1) drug company marketing which has expanded the definition of ADHD to include things such as carelessness and impatience; 2) drug companies overstating the benefit of the medications; 3) a twenty (20) year campaign by the drug companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents; and 4) false and misleading advertising by the drug companies as to the true benefits and dangers of their drugs.

Studies have shown a strong connection between ADHD, alcoholism and drug abuse. Moreover, ADHD is five (5) to ten (10) times more common among adult alcoholics than it is in people without ADHD. It is also more common for children with ADHD to start abusing alcohol during their teenage years. In one study, 14% of children ages 15-17 with ADHD had problems with alcohol abuse or dependence as adults, compared to children without ADHD. Another study found that at a mean age of 14.9 years, 40% of children with ADHD began using alcohol, compared to 22% of children without ADHD.

According to Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the brain’s likelihood of becoming addicted to a drug is related to how a drug increases levels of the naturally-occurring neurotransmitter dopamine, which modulates the brain’s ability to perceive reward reinforcement. The pleasure sensation the brain gets when dopamine levels are elevated creates the motivation for individuals to perform actions that are indispensable to our survival (like eating or procreation). Dopamine is what conditions us to do the things we need to do. The reason that dopamine-producing drugs are so addictive is that they have the ability to constantly fill a need for more dopamine. “A person may take a hit of cocaine, snort it, it increases dopamine, takes a second, it increases dopamine, third, fourth, fifth, sixth. So there’s never that decrease that ultimately leads to the satiety,” she says. This is why individuals dealing with addiction often relapse or have to go through treatment multiple times. Based on what I have observed, to some individuals, the need for a “high” is as strong as the need to breathe.

Where is a good addiction lawyer boca raton?

While every client’s case is different, the common thread is the diagnosis of ADHD and the use of medication which nearly always seems to make matters worse. One client, who was facing the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence, had been misdiagnosed and mistreated for his condition for close to twenty (20) years, beginning when he was ten (10) years old.  He testified at his sentencing hearing that after he was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety, as he got older and his need for a “high” increased, he progressed from abusing the medications to abusing cocaine, heroin, caffeine, and basically anything that would make him “feel better”.

There are a limited number of treatment centers that are really great at dealing with the dual diagnosis patient regardless of whether the client is in criminal or Marchman Court. To observe a client who has been stabilized and is in recovery is a thing to behold, it’s like saying goodbye to Mr. Hyde and hello to Dr. Jekyll. Parents often tell us that they finally have their child back after countless years of despair.

We are proud to work with an incredible team of professionals who are ready, willing and able to help with these issues. We do not charge for a consultation or for access to my resources. So, if you know a family in crisis encourage them to reach out for help.

Lawyer Boca Raton FL | The Private Sector isn’t the Problem in the Opioid Crisis, but 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, former 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 twenty (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, their families paying the remaining balance based on income.  While tuition payments were always one (1) month in arrears, they were always paid.

It takes seven (7) to ten (10) 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 thirty (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.

Third, where there is insurance coverage, we need to know how much the carrier is willing to pay to make up the difference between the subsidy and what the treatment center will accept as payment.  Where there is no insurance coverage or cash pay funds available, treatment centers can choose to accept the subsidy as the sole source of payment or not take the patient.

Fourth, before an addict dies or ends up in the criminal justice system, we need to educate the public about the Marchman Act and why individuals need to be “leveraged” into treatment.  When appropriate, tax Dollars already compensate the Office of Regional Counsel to represent Respondents in Marchman Act proceedings.  Petitioners need the same access to legal representation and where they qualify, access to free legal counsel that is compensated for their time from the emergency funds.

Fifth, Marchman Act hearings need to be conducted on a more frequent basis, once a week, as is the norm in many counties, is insufficient. There are many lawyers ready, willing and able to serve as Magistrates and/or retired Judges who could review and hear Marchman Act petitions.  Let’s use the emergency funds to compensate these professionals.

Finally, we need to make sure that treatment Dollars go further, buying more time in treatment.  You can’t train for a marathon in thirty (30) days, likewise, you can’t cure addiction in thirty (30) days either. Our clients tell us that anything less than sixty (60) days is a waste, ninety (90) is preferable, one hundred and eight (180) is great, after which time they can step down the rate and intensity of treatment.

Where is a good lawyer boca raton fl?

This is just one of many ways that the opioid crisis must be addressed. However, we must remember that this battle is more akin to a marathon than a sprint, it will take time and a massive community effort.

For access to FREE resources or a FREE consultation, I can be contacted at (561) 419-6095 or via email: mark@astorlawfirm.com.

Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer Boca Raton | The Best Kept Secret in the Fight Against Drug Addition

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 114 people a day die because of drugs (TIME magazine offers a much higher estimate), and 6,748 will be sent to hospital emergency rooms for treatment.  While addiction and substance abuse are undoubtedly major problems in the US, a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration found that as many as 90 percent of people who most need drug rehab do not receive it.

The best-kept secret in the battle against the opioid epidemic in Florida is the Marchman Act, a critical piece of life-saving legislation that has been on the books since 1993.  The Marchman Act permits the involuntary commitment of an individual suffering from a drug or alcohol substance abuse disorder.

After an ex parte petition is filed and reviewed for legal sufficiency, the Court can order an individual to be assessed for up to five (5) days (which can be increased for a further seven days) and thereafter involuntarily committed for up to sixty (60) days (which can be extended for a further ninety days).  If the individual leaves treatment prior to completion of the Court ordered treatment, contempt proceedings can be initiated and a pickup order requested.  The Court can use the threat of incarceration to “leverage” the individual back into treatment.

Where can I find a good drug crimes defense lawyer Boca Raton?  

I am fortunate and proud to have a brother who is a doctor currently finishing up his residency at Mount Sinai hospital in Miami.  He has shared the horror of working in the Emergency Room and treating a child who has been brought in after suffering a heart attack caused by opioid ingestion.  “There is nothing worse than having to tell a mother and father that their 18, 19, or 20-year-old child is gone because they suffered a heart attack after shooting up with heroin.  The brain cannot survive when it’s been starved of oxygen for ten or fifteen minutes.”

I speak to lawyers, medical personnel and families on a regular basis and I am shocked that few, if any, have heard of the Marchman Act and how it can be used to save lives.  80% of people in treatment in South Florida are from other states, some treatment centers spending upwards of $100,000 a month to advertise and attract clients to our state for addiction treatment, yet few families are being told about the Marchman Act and how it can be used to protect patients who are at risk of walking away from treatment.

We are fortunate that our local State Attorney here in Palm Beach County is working diligently to rid our county of bad actors, kudos to Dave Aronberg, Alan Johnson and the rest of the Sober Homes Task Force for the work they are doing.  That being said, we cannot rely solely on law enforcement or the treatment industry to fix this problem.  As members of the legal community, we are perfectly placed to hear our neighbors cries for help and we must encourage those in crisis to get help, let them know that they are not alone in this fight.  This disease affects about one-third of all families in the United States, so the other two thirds cannot sit idly by while people suffer.

I work with an incredible team of professionals who are ready, willing and able to help.  I do not charge for a consultation or for access to my resources.  So, if you know a family in crisis encourage them to reach out for help.

Florida Marchman Act Attorney | What You Need to Know About Marchman Act

When it comes to getting help for addiction, not everyone is willing or able to seek out what they need. Some people require intervention. Thankfully in Florida, we have the Marchman Act. What is the Marchman Act? You don’t need a Florida Marchman Act attorney to understand what it does, but you will need one to help you file the proper petitions.

What Does the Marchman Act Do?

The Marchman Act was passed in 1993 and is a crucial tool used to help those struggling with substance abuse that has proven that they cannot get help themselves. The process involves a parent, spouse, or close friend petitioning the courts to intervene in extreme cases where the person is a danger to both themselves and the general public. The courts can order an assessment of the person in question for up to five days. This can lead to a maximum of 90 days of involuntary commitment at a certified treatment facility. All treatments remain confidential and if the person leaves the facility before treatment is complete, they can be held in contempt.

Does the Marchman Act Really Work?

Yes, the Marchman Act does work. What needs to be kept in mind when talking about the Marchman Act is that it is for the most extreme cases only. Cases involving minors, people also struggling with severe mental illness, and cases where the individual is an immediate threat to themselves or the general public are Marchman Act cases. While people can relapse, detox and rehabilitation centers have proven to help. Sometimes breaking an addict’s daily cycle or getting them out of a certain environment can be the difference between sobriety or continued intoxication. When it comes down to it, the Marchman Act saves lives. What is a Florida Marchman Act attorney?

Looking for a Florida Marchman Act Attorney?

Have you or someone you know been looking for help with someone struggling with substance abuse? A Florida Marchman Act attorney at Drug and Alcohol Attorneys are here to help you. Contact us today for more information about how to get your loved one the help they need.

Involuntary Commitment and Treatment and Subsequent Constitutional Rights Violations


Written by: Jaclyn Bovarnick
John Doe, a young man who found himself in the criminal justice system because of an “impulse control” issue, suffered for over twenty years from a mental illness that was poorly managed and mis-diagnosed1. As a result of his poorly treated mental illness, he began to use and abuse anything that he could put in his mouth, in his veins, or up his nose1. He became addicted to substance use because he wanted to do anything to make himself “feel better”. While John Doe fought to stay out of trouble, his family suffered as they watched their son’s life deteriorate. While they became physically, emotionally, and financially spent, they wondered what their options were and how they could help their son get his life back on track before it was completely lost.   There is a “definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances”2 and these diseases, if left unchecked and untreated, only get worse with time. As a result, an individual suffering from these diseases can really go to one of three places: prison, a morgue, or to treatment. This topic is of importance because mental health is a very prominent issue in today’s society as well as substance abuse, especially with the urgent opioid crisis. In 2016, more than 63,000 lives worldwide were lost to drug overdose3, a majority of which were as a result of opioid use. In 2016 alone, statistics showed that opioids killed more people than breast cancer. There were 42,249 drug fatalities in the United States, 66% percent of which involved opioids; that’s over a thousand more than the American’s who die from breast cancer ever year3. Statistics from this past year also revealed that America is one of the countries with the highest prevalence of alcohol abuse, where 237 million men and 46 million women are problem drinkers and alcohol abusers4. More than 3 million people died in 2016 from drinking too much alcohol, meaning 1 in 20 deaths worldwide were linked to harmful drinking4. “Far too many people, their families, and their communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol” 4, said the WHO director-general, Adhanom Ghebreyesus; the same can be said for mental illness and drug abuse.   “The mortality trends in mental and substance use disorders point to the need for a well-considered response from local and state governments, as well as care providers, to help reduce the disparities we are seeing across the country (Dr. Christopher Murray)” 5. As a country we need to have a bigger discussion about getting individuals the treatment they need as well as keeping them in treatment so they have a successful recovery. A major dilemma with the treatment of these diseases is that individuals, along with their families, sometimes have an issue with either accepting the fact that they need treatment, going in and out of treatment facilities because of relapse or not wanting to be there, or believing that they don’t need treatment at all. There are options when it comes to helping families and individuals when a loved one has a substance abuse and/or a mental health disorder. These options can involve the use of involuntary commitment and treatment under the Baker Act or Marchman Act, sometimes in conjunction with temporary or permanent guardianship over the person with the disease.   A major implication of involuntarily committing a person for substance abuse and mental health treatment is the violation of their constitutional rights. A constantly reoccurring question asks whether involuntary treatment and commitment violates a persons’ constitutional rights. Following this question, one might ask if a person is in need of involuntarily commitment for treatment, who should have the ability to make this decision and why is someone else more capable of making a ‘better’ life decision that could have lasting effects on that person’s life.

Baker Act

The Florida Mental Health Act (also known as the Baker Act) took effect in 1972 and is a state statute that allows for involuntary detention and subsequent examination of mentally ill and dangerous persons for a limited time period, ranging from 48 to 72 hours6. The intent of this statute is to provide the least restrictive form of intervention for mentally ill persons and to provide a Bill of Rights for persons of all ages who may suffer from mental illness7. Under this law, if (1) there is reason to believe that a person has a mental illness, (2) the person does not agree to a voluntary examination, and (3) without care the person may suffer harm or be a danger to himself or others, the involuntary examination process can be initiated by a court order, by a law enforcement officer, or by a physician or a mental health professional6. Upon initiation of a Baker Act, the person is delivered to a receiving facility and must be examined within 72 hours; patients may not be held involuntarily for longer than 72 hours. By the end of the 72-hour holding period, the receiving facility must act based on the patient’s best interests. If treatment is deemed necessary for the patient but they refuse voluntary treatment, a petition for involuntary placement (known as civil commitment in other states) may be filed6.   A question one might ask about the Baker Act is does it violate a person’s constitutional rights. “Because civil commitment takes away a person’s freedom, the patient in a civil commitment proceeding receives full due process rights”6 and a “finding of ‘mental illness’ alone cannot justify a State’s locking a person up against his will and keeping him indefinitely in simple custodial confinement”6. Therefore, the answer to this question is no, depending upon the fact that the mentally ill person meets the designated criteria for involuntary detention under the Baker Act statute. A person’s constitutional rights must also be upheld once committed and receiving treatment.; “psychiatric patients retain substantive constitutional rights”6 to conditions appropriate with their diagnoses. The first case brought to the Supreme Court that shed light on the rights of mental health patients was O’Connor v. Donaldson 422 U.S. 563 (1975). In this case, a man was confined against his will in a state mental hospital for 15 years even though he was not thought to be dangerous to himself or others and was not receiving any treatment6. The Supreme Court held that O’Connor violated Donaldson’s constitutional right to freedom6. Eventually this decision led to the due process protections in most states’ laws6. Under due process protections, the Baker Act does not violate a person’s constitutional rights. Individual’s under the Baker Act are allowed a hearing to determine if they should continue to be held because of mental illness. If a doctor does not deem them to be mentally ill and harmful to themselves or another, then the hold will be released, and they are free to go.   The Baker Act can be a useful tool in helping people who suffer from mental illness by keeping themselves and others out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, in some cases, the Baker Act may not be enough to save a person’s life, however, it is a necessary tool in the fight against mental illness. The Baker Act is different from the Marchman Act in that it is used solely for the purpose of involuntary detention of a mentally ill person, but it is certainly of equal importance.

Marchman Act

The Marchman Act, also known as the Florida Law on Substance Abuse or the Hal. S Marchman Alcohol & Other Drug Services Act of 1993 addresses an entire array of substance abuse impairment issues7. In 1993, it replaced the Myers Act which was alcohol abuse only, and the Florida Drug Dependency Act which addressed ‘other’ drugs. “The Marchman Act is not just the substance abuse version of the Baker Act”7; the Marchman Act, unique to Florida, is a piece of lifesaving legislation that permits the involuntary commitment of an individual, minor or adult, suffering from a drug or alcohol substance abuse disorder1 in addition to a co-occurring mental health disorder.   The Marchman Act (397.675, FS) provides three distinct non-court procedures (protective custody, emergency admission, alternative assessment and stabilization of minors) and one court procedure (involuntary assessment and stabilization) for conducting assessments, which may include detoxification, stabilization, and short-term treatment. The criteria is: There is good faith reason to believe the person is substance abuse impaired and, because of such impairment: 1. Has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use; and either 2a. Has inflicted, or threatened or attempted to inflict, or unless admitted is likely to inflict, physical harm on himself or herself or another; or 2b. Is in need of substance abuse services and, by reason of substance abuse impairment, his or her judgment has been so impaired that the person is incapable of appreciating his or her need for such services and of making a rational decision in regard thereto; however, mere refusal to receive such services does not constitute evidence of lack of judgment with respect to his or her need for such services.7   The Marchman Act is initiated when an Ex Parte petition, which is a temporary order pending a formal hearing or an emergency request for continuance8, is filed and reviewed, followed by a Court order, ordering the assessment of an individual for up to 5 days, possibly followed by involuntarily commitment for up to 90 days (which can be extended for a further 90 days)1. If an individual decides to leave treatment prior to completion of the Court ordered treatment, a pick-up order may be issued, and the individual is held in contempt of court. The Court can then use the threat of incarceration to “leverage” the individual back into treatment1. Could this be a violation of a person’s constitutional rights? The Marchman Act provides many placement options for assessment and possible subsequent treatment; some places include hospitals, addiction receiving facilities, as well as detoxification facilities. Treatment plans are individualized and are based upon information from the assessments taken at placement facilities. All of these proceeding are confidential and will become a part of the person’s medical records.   Simon Astor, a doctor currently completing his residency at Mount Sinai Hospital, shared the horrors of treating a child who was brought in after suffering a heart attack caused by an untreated opioid addiction. He said, “there is nothing worse than having to tell a mother and father that their 18, 19, or 20-year-old child is gone because they suffered a heart attack after shooting up with heroin.”1 Involuntary commitment and treatment for this young man under the Marchman Act may have had the ability to save his life.   An example ex parte petition titled: EX PARTE PETITION SEEKING INVOLUNATRY SUBSTANCE ABUSE ASSESSMENT, STABLIZATION AND TREATMENT SERVICES (MARCHMAN ACT) filed by Petitioner in Palm Beach County (2018).   The Respondent, who is 39 years of age, has been a heavy drinker for the past 20 years. At 13 years of age, the Respondent attended a detox facility for an addiction to pain pills, cocaine, and alcohol but did not follow up with any post-detox treatment. The Respondent, who has lived with the Petitioner for the past 10 years has been struggling with alcohol abuse and social anxiety as well as having ‘bad’ thoughts, especially towards the Petitioner. For the past 12 years, the Respondent has been addicted to pain pills such as Oxycodone which he began following a back injury. In the last year, in addition to significant consumption of alcohol, the Respondent has been abusing medications obtained by “doctor shopping” by being dishonest about his addictions and prescriptions he was already taking. The Petitioner has become more aggressive and physical towards the Petitioner, battering her on several occasions. In addition to his prescribed medications and cocaine use, the Respondent has been using his deceased father’s medications; all of which are mixed with alcohol. In March 2017, the Respondent threatened to shoot the Petitioner’s family with firearms that were already in his possession. On November 3, 2017, the Petitioner asked the Respondent to leave their home because he was drunk and aggressive, scaring her. The Petitioner has learned more recently that the Respondent has been abusing additional anxiety and anti-depressant medications.9   Under Section 397.675 (Marchman Act), Florida Statutes, the Respondent meets the criteria for Involuntary Substance Abuse Assessment and Stabilization in that he is substance abuse impaired and has a co-occurring mental health disorder, and because of such impairment and disorder he meets the criteria explained above. Therefore, the Petitioner requests that the court enter an Ex Parte Order finding the Respondent in need of Involuntary Substance Abuse Assessment and Stabilization. The Petitioner also requests that the court order the Respondent to be taken and remain at Sunrise Detox Facility where he can be assessed and stabilized until the court can conduct an additional hearing to determine Involuntary Treatment Services.9   In cases such as this, where the Respondent’s disease has seemingly taken control of his ability to make good decisions, the Marchman Act has the potential to save not only his life, but the lives of others around him. Ultimately, the Marchman Act has the ability to save many lives of those suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders and has the possibility to become a leading statute for fighting the opioid epidemic faced by our nation.

Guardianship

A Guardianship, also known as an Emergency Temporary Guardianship (ETG), can be valuable for cases in which there is a mental health disorder with a history of substance abuse, but such substances are not immediately found in someone’s system. An ETG can also be useful in situations where the Petitioners have exhausted every option such as the Marchman Act and the Baker Act to try to get their loved ones the help they need. Like the Marchman Act, the ETG is set for 90 days (with the ability to renew for an additional 90 days). A Guardianship enables a Petitioner (in most cases a family member), to make health care decisions on behalf of a Respondent when “there appears to be imminent danger that the physical or mental health or safety of the person will be seriously impaired or that the person’s property is in danger of being wasted, misappropriated, or lost unless immediate action is taken.”1   In an emergency proceeding, the Court grants temporary relief pending a determination of incapacity. The emergency temporary relief gives the emergency temporary guardian the ability to get the alleged incapacitated person (AIP) into treatment. This temporary relief is granted when an individual appears to be in danger to themselves or others. Once incapacity is determined, a guardianship allows the Petitioner to make decisions for their loved ones regarding medical care, management of their property, restrictions of their right to travel, right to vote, choice of residence and who to socialize with; once determined incapacitated in Florida, their right to possess and own a firearm is now taken away. Do these decisions made by the Petitioner and the state of Florida violate the Respondent’s constitutional rights?   One of the benefits of a petition for an Emergency Temporary Guardianship, is the ability to circumvent HIPPA1 which must be considered when an individual reaches the age of eighteen. A parent, physician, or interested person over the age of eighteen, who qualifies as a Guardian, has the ability to begin to manage the AIP’s medical decisions, receive medical information on behalf of the AIP, authorize treatment based on physician recommendations, initiate a change in facilities, or decide any other specific medical decisions unique to that particular AIP1.   An example ETG Petition titled: PEITION FOR APPOINTMENT OF EMERGENCY TEMPORARY GUARDIAN, filed by Petitioners against Respondent (2018).   A Petition to Determine Incapacity has been filed with respect to Respondent, an alleged incapacitated person (AIP), but a guardian has not yet been appointed. The Petitioners are his parents and are interested in the welfare of the AIP. There appears to be imminent danger that the physical or mental health or safety of the AIP will be seriously impaired or that the property of that person is in danger of being wasted, misappropriated or lost unless immediate action is taken because: The AIP is 21 years of age. The AIP had manual dexterity delays and required speech therapy and had difficulty learning. The AIP was diagnosed with ADHD at an early age and while in middle school he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. At the age of 9, following a surgery, the AIP was prescribed pain medication. The Petitioners soon found him drinking the entire bottle of Hydrocodone, saying it “made him feel good”. At 13 years of age, the AIP began an obsession with smoking marijuana. One night his mother (Petitioner) asked to talk about his addiction and the AIP replied, “You do not understand, this is the only peace I have ever found.” The AIP was taken to counseling with limited success. He was caught stealing cold medicine from drugstores and taking Corcidin by the handful. The AIP was taken to a treatment facility at the age of 14, however, he refused to stay in treatment and ran away twice with no shoes. At the ages of 15 and 16 the AIP was in and out of other treatment facilities. Around January 2012, the AIP went into the Petitioners home and stole whatever drugs he could find as well as a knife. The police were called and the Respondent was arrested for drug possession where he wanted taken for a psych evaluation. He was then taking to another treatment facility for several months. The following year, after he has aspirated on his vomit in an outpatient program, the AIP was taken to a treatment center in Florida where he remained in recovery for six months eventually gaining the ability to seek employment. He relapsed and ended up getting arrested on four drug possession charges, resulting in admittance to a Drug Court program. The AIP was terminated from this program after multiple “dirty” violations. By the age of 19 the AIP had 4 separate drug convictions and no place to live (2015). In November of 2017, the AIP began to hallucinate telling the Petitioner he was being chased by people, his phone was bugged, and he “was going to die”. After being Baker Acted by police and taken to North Shore Medical Center in Miami, the Respondent requested his mother come get him, from Virginia, because he was being poisoned by Anthrax. AIP’s mother discovered he was using meth and taking Xanax. Around November 9, 2017 under a Marchman Act order the AIP was ordered to a detox facility in Boca Raton, Florida. The AIP became uncooperative and belligerent and subsequently left, in direct violation of the order. An Emergency Ex Parte Motion was filed for a pick up order. The AIP now resides in South County Mental Health Facility. The Petitioners are seeking Emergency Temporary Guardianship because the AIP is a threat to himself and to others and needs medical treatment. The AIP is noncompliant with treatment. There is imminent danger in that he is likely to inflict physical harm onto himself or to another. The AIP has lost the power of self-control due to substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health disorder and he is incapable of appreciating his need for treatment. 10   The proposed emergency temporary guardians should be appointed because the AIP is incapable of making rational decisions due to his substance abuse and mental health disorder. Without proper care, the AIP is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself thereby posing a substantial threat to himself and others. The temporary guardians will be able to make rational decisions for the AIP in order to save his life and hopefully help him get on the right track.   There is also something called a Permanent Guardianship which can be granted by a Court with or without an ETG. The petitioner can ask for Permanent Guardianship if it appears that the AIP is not going to become competent enough to manage their own affairs. If a Permanent Guardianship is granted, all of the benefits of the ETG apply, but for an indefinite period of time1.

Constitutional Rights Violations

In terms of the Baker Act, under due process protections, this statute does not violate a person’s constitutional rights. The Marchman Act, however, is relatively newer and we have yet to come across a case where violation of a person’s constitutional rights have set grounds for what due process protections are protected under the statute.   In terms of Guardianship, some might question the ability of a guardian to take away an individual’s rights under the constitution such as the right to vote as well as an individual’s right as a free person such as the right to travel and to manage one’s own property. If determined incapacitated, it makes sense that an appointed guardian with an interest in the welfare of the individual make rational decisions on their behalf. Also in terms of an incapacitated person losing their ability to possess a firearm(s), although this seems to violate a person’s second amendment rights, there is no reason that a person under the influence of substances or with a mental disorder that causes them to make irrational decisions should possess a firearm. This would put their life in danger and potentially many others around them.

Conclusion

There is an old idea that people who have a substance abuse disorder cannot be helped until they reach their own bottom11 Too many have died while their loved ones waited for them to ‘hit rock bottom’ causing the individual to finally seek treatment or help11. Because of statutes such as the Marchman Act, we no longer have to play this tired game. The Marchman Act, as well as a petition for Guardianship, can be effective tools to get individuals the treatment they so desperately need, even if they deny it because their judgment is impaired. Although these statutes sometimes seem to take away an individual’s constitutional rights, if someone else is more capable of making an informed, rational decision on their behalf thereby keeping that individual and others around them safe, then they should be able to petition a court to do so.   Involuntary committing a loved one for substance abuse and mental illness can be a fairly difficult situation and not all cases turn out well. But, the Baker Act, Marchman Act, and Guardianship are all ways in which we make possible, the opportunity to save the life of a loved one or individuals around them.  

References

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Drug and Alcohol Attorney in Boca Raton | What to Expect

Selecting a lawyer is no small task. Choosing the right lawyer can help you greatly when it comes to your case. On the other side of that though, choosing the wrong lawyer can be detrimental to your case. So, how do you know if you are picking the right lawyer? Well, let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions that people have when it comes to picking a drug and alcohol attorney in Boca Raton.

Who is the best drug and alcohol attorney in boca raton?

What Should I Expect from an Attorney?

When it comes to the attorney/client relationship, there are expectations on both sides. While your lawyer will expect certain things from you, you should also expect certain things from your attorney. You should expect your attorney to do the following:
  • Work with you to pinpoint the problem.
  • Research and analyze all available facts and information relating to your problem.
  • Interview anyone involved.
  • Negotiate a settlement if both sides can reach an agreement.
  • Keep you informed about what is going on in your case and answer your questions.
  • Discuss fees with you at your first visit and come to an agreement about the way in which the fee will be paid.
  • Be candid with you about your problem, your prospects for success‚ the time it will take‚ and if you should accept any settlement offered.
  • Keep in confidence anything you say.

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