Mental Health Commitments
The County prosecuting attorney, in some circumstances, will file to have residents of the county involuntarily committed to a state hospital for treatment of a mental disease or defect that causes them to be dangerous to themselves or others. This is done using the procedures set forth in Title 66, Chapter 3 of the Idaho Code. You can read these legal provisions by clicking on the link in the previous sentence.
OVERVIEW OF THE MENTAL COMMITMENT PROCESS
The prosecuting attorney is one of the many persons allowed to bring an action to have a mentally ill person involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for treatment. Below is an overview of the various different elements that make up a standard commitment proceeding.
Initiation of proceeding
The Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office will only file such actions when the person is indigent and/or there are no responsible family members or guardians available to bring such an action.
These actions are nearly always brought to the attention of the prosecutor’s office filed because a law enforcement officer has taken a person believed to be mentally ill into protective custody. In order to do so, the officer must have probable cause that the person is gravely disabled due to a mental illness or the person’s continued liberty poses an imminent danger to that person or others. Once taken into custody, the patient must be presented to a duly authorized court within twenty-four (24) hours from the time the individual was placed in custody.
Initial Examination and Filing of Petition
Immediately after being placed in protective custody, the judge finds that the individual to be gravely disabled due to mental illness or imminently dangerous, the judge is required to issue a temporary custody order requiring the person to be held in a facility and requiring an examination of the person by a designated examiner within twenty four hours of the entry of the order. The examiner is required to submit their findings to the judge within twenty-four (24) hours. If the examiner finds the person is mentally ill, and either is likely to injure themselves or others or is gravely disabled due to mental illness, the prosecuting attorney is required to file, within twenty-four (24) hours a petition with the court requesting the patient’s detention pending commitment proceedings. Upon receipt of the petition, the court must set a hearing to be held within five (5) days.
Appointment of an Attorney
The proposed patient will have an attorney appointed, at county expense, to represent them, unless other arrangements are made to have counsel represent them.
Appointment of Second Designated Examiner
Within forty-eight (48) hours of the filing of a petition, the judge will appoint a second designated examiner to make a personal examination of the individual. The examiner must file their report with the court within seventy-two (72) hours. If the designated examiner finds the person is mentally ill, and either is likely to injure themselves or others or is gravely disabled due to mental illness, the judge will enter an order authorize the individual to be taken to a facility in the community in which the proposed patient is residing or to the nearest facility to await an adjudicatory hearing.
The judge must set an adjudicatory hearing within seven (7) days of the receipt of the second designated examiners report. This can be extended to fourteen (14) days upon request of the patient and the patient’s attorney.
The adjudicatory hearing is trial where the issues are decided by the presiding judge. The judge can commit the person to the custody of the Department of Health and Welfare if the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is both mentally ill and is likely to injure themselves or others or is gravely due to the mental illness.
Term of Custody
The judge will designate the maximum amount of time, up to one year, that the individual may be committed to the custody of the Department of Health and Welfare. If the patient is well enough to be discharged from custody, the order may be modified to reflect this fact. In other cases, the prosecution may be required to ask the court for an additional hearing at a later date to request that the judge enter a new order for purposes of extending the commitment.
Review by the Department
The Department is required to conduct an examination at least at the end of the first ninety (90) days and every one hundred twenty (120) days thereafter. A report of each of these reviews is required to be forwarded to the presiding judge, the prosecutor, and the patient’s attorney.
Visit Idaho Code Title 66, Chapter 3, which contain the provisions relating to mentally ill persons. Click any of the links to read the text of the statute.