Sad woman crying during psychotherapy at professional clinicWe understand that petitioning to get your loved one into treatment due to struggles with substance abuse or mental health can be extremely stressful and confusing. 

If you need help getting your loved one into treatment in Fort Lauderdale, you’re in the right place. The diligent defense attorneys of Rossen Law Firm can assist you through either the Marchman Act or Baker Act petitions and court proceedings.

The Marchman Act is the Florida Substance Abuse Impairment Act. It is a Florida Law that, in part, allows for family members to petition the courts to mandate an assessment or treatment of another’s substance abuse health issues.

The Baker Act is the Florida Mental Health Act which governs all issues related to mental illness and voluntary or involuntary treatment. 

You do not have to go about this process alone. Contact our firm today to discuss your situation with a South Florida Marchman Act lawyer or Baker Act Lawyer.

What Is the Florida Marchman Act? How Can an Attorney Help?

The Marchman Act is the Florida Substance Abuse Impairment Act. It is a state law that, in part, allows for family members to petition the courts for mandatory assessment and treatment of someone who is struggling with a substance abuse issue (such as drugs or alcohol) and appears to be a danger to others or themselves. 

Florida legislators recognize substance abuse is a major health problem and leads to disturbing consequences, including addiction, criminal behavior, vehicular casualties, business losses, and more. As a state, Florida recognizes substance abuse impairment as a disease that affects the whole family and even society. 

Marchman acts are relevant to South Florida attorneys and criminal defense for a few different reasons. There are 5 ways to involuntarily get someone into substance abuse treatment, and 2 of those involve court-related procedures. A Marchman Act Attorney serving Fort Lauderdale can help guide you through the court-related procedures to help you ensure that your loved one is getting all the support and help that they need. 

Another intent of the Marchman Act – more related to criminal defense – is to provide substance abuse impaided adults and juvenile criminal offenders an alternate path outside of criminal imprisonment. It is possible for people to be treated at specific treatment programs or facilities for substance abuse rather than serving a jail or prison sentence.  

The Marchman Act’s Legislative Intents Include:

  • Provide for a comprehensive continuum of accessible and quality substance abuse prevention, intervention, and treatment services in the least restrictive environment with a wide variety of agencies and providers in private and public sectors.
  • Ensure within available resources a full continuum of substance abuse services based on projected identified needs, delivered without discrimination and with adequate provision for specialized needs. 
  • Discourage substance abuse by promoting healthy lifestyles and drug-free schools, workplaces, and communities
  • Provide, for substance abuse impaired adult and juvenile offenders, an alternative to criminal imprisonment by encouraging the referral of such offenders to service providers not generally available within the correctional system instead of or in addition to criminal penalties. 
  • Provide, within the limits of appropriations and safe management of the correctional system, substance abuse services to substance abuse impaired offenders who are incarcerated within the Department of Corrections, in order to better enable these inmates to adjust to the conditions of society presented to them when their terms of incarceration end. 

The Marchman act’s history began in 1970, but the state statute was named the “Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993” – now known as the Marchman Act for short – in 1993. 

Hal Marchman was a tireless advocate for people struggling with alcoholism and drug abuse.

The Marchman Act is the Florida Substance Abuse Impairment Act and it does not serve any other purpose. Other statues that can often be related include the Baker Act (see below); Developmental Disabilities; Emergency Examination and Treatment of Incapacitated Persons Act; Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitations; Guardianship and more. 

Drug addict hands asking for help on dark table with cooked heroine, pills, spoon and plastic bag. Concept for drug addiction and International Day against Drug Abuse, top viewTreatment for Substance Abuse in South Florida:

Someone can seek treatment for substance abuse either voluntarily or involuntarily. The Marchman Act encourages people to seek out treatment voluntarily and to be actively involved in planning their own services with help from qualified professionals. Denial of addiction, however, is a common symptom which can raise barriers for someone’s early intervention and treatment. 

  • Marchman Act: Voluntary Admission
    • If someone wants to begin treatment for substance abuse, they can apply to a service provider for voluntary admission.
    • All people – of any age – must be admitted to treatment when sufficient evidence exists that the person is impaired by substance abuse and the medical and behavioral conditions of the person are not beyond the safe management capabilities of the service provider.
    • Voluntary Admittance also depends on the financial and space capabilities of the service provider.
  • Marchman Act: Involuntary Admission
    • If someone is in denial of their addiction, it can mean that their treatment comes as a result of a spouse, employer, doctor, judge or other person with influence over one’s life to obtain needed substance abuse services.
    • The Marchman Act established a variety of methods under which substance abuse assessment, stabilization and treatment could be obtained on an involuntary basis. There are five involuntary admission procedures. Three of the procedures do not involve the court, while two require direct petitions to the circuit court. 
    • The three non-court procedures are: Protective Custody, Emergency Admission, Alternative Involuntary Assessment for Minors
    • Florida law also offers two court related procedures, including: 
      • Involuntary Assessment and stabilization 
      • Involuntary Treatment 

Marchman Act: Involuntary Admission Options Involving the Court System 

Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization

  • This procedure involves filing a petition with the Clerk of the court. It can be filed by a spouse, guardian, a relative, a private practitioner, a service provider, OR any 3 adults with knowledge of the person.
  • If the person is a minor, the petition may be filed by a parent, a legal guardian, a legal custodian, or a licensed service provider.
  • The court can schedule a hearing to take place within 10 days or can issue an ex parte order immediately. 
  • The person can be admitted to a hospital, an addictions receiving facility or a detoxification facility for assessment and stabilization to determine the person’s need for treatment.

Involuntary Treatment

  • This procedure involves filing a petition with the clerk of court after the person has been involved in the previously mentioned procedure (or one of the 3 self-file options). 
  • The petition may be filed by the same petitioners as involuntary assessment. 

Do I need a Marchman Act Attorney?

A South Florida attorney with experience filing Marchman Acts in Fort Lauderdale is to your advantage as they can help you prepare for the legal proceedings involved. An experienced attorney can also help connect you with treatment professionals such as interventionists, counselors, and more.

They will help ensure that you’re provided all your rights and that your loved one is able to get the best care they need, and that all their rights are also not violated. 

Young man on a group therapy talking about his feelings, a Baker act attorney in Palm beach and Broward can help your loved ones get helpWhat is the Florida Baker Act? How can a Fort Lauderdale Attorney help?

The Baker Act is the Florida Mental Health Act which governs all issues related to mental illness. The definition of mental illness specifically excludes intoxication and substance abuse impairment as that is covered specifically under the Marchman Act. 

The Baker Act provides a bill of rights for people in South Florida struggling with a mental illness and due process rights for people who have had either voluntary or involuntary procedures initiated for mental health treatment in times of acute illness. 

The Baker Act is not the same as the Marchman Act, but often law enforcement officers sometimes erroneously used the Baker Act instead of the Marchman Act. 

Baker Act: Voluntary Admission

An adult may apply for voluntary admission under the Baker Act if they show evidence of mental illness, appear competent to provide express and informed consent, and if they seem suitable for treatment.

Baker Act: Involuntary Admission

A person may be involuntary examined under the Baker Act if there is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill, and because of his or her mental illness: the person refused voluntary examination OR cannot determine if examination is necessary, AND if the person is likely to suffer from neglect, or real substantial harm without care or treatment OR if there is substantial likelihood that the person will seriously harm themselves or others in the near future (as evidenced by recent behavior).

For involuntary examination, a law enforcement officer must take the person to a designated Baker Act facility and the facility MUST accept the person brought by law enforcement for examination and the exam must happen within 72 hours. If appropriate,  the person can later be transferred to another facility for mental health treatment. 

After an assessment, the person will either: be released, returned to a law enforcement officer if charged with a crime, will be asked to express consent to be placed in voluntary mental health treatment, or a petition for involuntary placement in a mental health treatment center will be filed with the court. 


Rossen Law Firm teamGoing through a Marchman or Baker Act process in South Florida can be highly difficult – not only because of the court procedures, but also emotionally and psychologically. When someone we love is going through something difficult it can take an emotional toll – especially if we need to intervene for them to be well. 

Having a Fort Lauderdale attorney on your side if you need to file a Marchman or Baker Act in Palm Beach or Broward counties is to your advantage as they can help you prepare for the legal proceedings involved. They can help ensure that everything is done correctly and help to alleviate the burden on you as the family member or petitioner. 

A great attorney can also help connect you with treatment professionals such as interventionists, counselors, and more.

A South Florida Marchman Act Lawyer or Baker Act Lawyer can help ensure that you’re provided all your rights and that your loved one is able to get the best care they need, and that all their rights are also kept intact throughout the process. Contact us today to get started.

Free Marchman Act and Baker Act Strategy Sessions

At Rossen Law Firm, we work together to represent and empower people in crisis situations due to substance abuse or mental health disorders. 

When you come in for a free strategy session – above and beyond a free consultation – we will listen to the full story and talk together about what our strategy would be to help get your friend, loved one, or family member into treatment, or to help them stay in treatment, or more. 

Learn more about the Baker and Marchman Acts in this Florida State PDF. 

Give us a Call Today to Schedule an Appointment for your Free Baker Act or Marchman Act Consultation at one of our South Florida offices.

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