Marchman Act / Baker Act

Marchman Act / Baker Act

Marchman Act

According to, the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, or more commonly referred to as the Marchman Act, provides for emergency assistance and temporary detention for individuals requiring substance abuse evaluation and treatment in the state of Florida. When properly applied to a well-balanced, long-term plan, the Marchman Act has the potential to help an individual put into place a court-ordered framework that supports their recovery.

The Marchman Act is initiated by filing a petition for involuntary assessment in the county court where the impaired individual resides. The petition must be filed in good faith by a person recognized by the court to do so. The petitioner must have reason to believe, and/or direct knowledge that an individual has lost the power of self-control with regard to substance abuse and that there exists the likelihood that the individual has the potential to inflict harm upon themselves or others unless they get help. Furthermore, it must also be demonstrated that the impaired individual is without the capacity to make rational decisions with regard to appreciating the need for treatment.

Once all relevant testimony has been heard by the court, it may enter an order for involuntary assessment to assess and stabilize the impaired individual for a period not to exceed five days. The findings of that assessment are then reviewed with the court which may then enter an order for involuntary treatment for a period not to exceed 60 days.

Filing the Marchman Act is a fairly simple process. The clerk at your local county court will provide you a packet to complete in which you will be asked to detail your observations regarding the severity of the symptoms that you have witnessed. Once the packet is all filled out, the clerk of the court will present your completed petition to the magistrate in charge of signing the order. Once the order is signed, it may then be sent to the county sheriff to actually enforce the order by bringing the impaired individual to an assessment center. These centers are called Addictions Receiving Facilities, and First Step of Sarasota, Inc. is the Addiction Receiving Facility for Sarasota County, Florida.

Baker Act

According to, the Baker Act is a Florida law that enables families and loved ones to provide emergency mental health services and temporary detention for people who are impaired because of their mental illness, and who are unable to determine their needs for treatment. The Act was named after Maxine Baker, former Miami State representative who sponsored the Act in 1972. People who require the use of the Baker Act have often lost the power of self-control, and they are likely to inflict harm to themselves or others. It is important that the Baker Act only be used in situations where the person has a mental illness and meets all the remaining criteria for voluntary or involuntary admission.