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Emergency Detentions

There are four ways a person can be admitted to a hospital against his/her will (involuntarily):

  • Statement of Emergency Detention – decided by law
    enforcement based on observations of the law
    enforcement officer. He or she must have cause to
    believe that the subject is suffering from a mental
    illness, drug dependency, or developmental disability.
    And the subject must present a substantial probability of
    harm to self or to others.     
  • Treatment Director’s Hold – If the subject individual is already a voluntary
    patient of the treatment facility and is attempting to leave against medical

    advice and/or the grounds exist for an emergency detention, the treatment
    director of the facility or his/her designee can detain the individual in the
  • 3 Party Petition – Three adults with knowledge of the subject’s behavior and
    a belief that the subject suffers from a mental illness and presents a
    substantial probability of harm to self or others may sign a petition asking the
    court to detain the individual in a treatment facility.
  • A “Fifth Standard” Petition – This is similar to a 3 party petition, but the
    subject must have a history of receiving treatment and an inability to
    understand the benefits of treatment while suffering from a mental illness.
    Generally, there is not the requirement of a substantial probability of imminent

Individuals who are detained will be informed of their rights under the law, including their right to an attorney, their right to remain silent, and their right to contact family members.

Process After Detention

Probable Cause hearing – Must be held within 72 hours from the time of detention before a judge or court commissioner to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to continue to detain the individual and to other further examine the individual. The Sheriff’s Department provides transportation of the individual to the hearing. If the court finds that probable cause exists, it will order the subject to be examined by two doctors (usually a psychiatrist and a psychologist). The court can also order the administration of psychotropic medications. If the court does not find probable cause, then the petition will be dismissed.

Examination – The court will appoint two doctors (as mentioned above) to examine the person being committed. The examiners will give their opinion as to whether the person being committed suffers from a mental illness, whether the person presents a substantial probability of harm to self or others, and whether the person is competent to refuse psychotropic medications. The doctors will then give a recommendation as to the placement.

Final Hearing – A final hearing is held and the judge will decide whether or not the person will be committed to the Iron County Department of Human Services for involuntary treatment. The final hearing will be held within 14 days of detention if a jury trial is not requested. At a final hearing, the county must prove that the person being committed is mentally ill; presents a substantial probability of harm to self or others; and is treatable. The person can be committed for a period of time in either an inpatient or outpatient facility.

Treatment – If committed, the person will be assigned a social worker with Iron County Human Services to work with on their treatment needs. Placement will be in the least restrictive setting depending on the person’s needs. If the person fails to follow the treatment plan or their condition were to decompensate, it may result in a change of placement to a more restrictive setting. Commitment will continue until the person’s treatment team and/or the court makes a determination that the person does not present a substantial probability of harm if treatment were withdrawn.

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