What to Know About Florida’s Marchman Act

florida marchman actFlorida’s Marchman Act enables the judicial system to temporarily detain, assess, and place individuals into substance abuse treatment against their will. Florida is not alone in its legal pursuit to assist individuals struggling with drug addictions. In fact, the opioid epidemic has caused 37 states to enact similar legislation. However, there are still processes and requirements that must be met for individuals to be submitted. For example, in order to receive involuntary treatment, a person must be evaluated by an addiction treatment professional. 

If your loved one or friend is struggling with drug addiction, it can be helpful to consult a lawyer to see if they are eligible for treatment through the Marchman Act. Here is some helpful information to know about the act and the requirements individuals must meet. 

What to Know About Florida’s Marchman Act 

Under the Marchman Act, a person could file a petition for involuntary assessment and stabilization of an individual for substance abuse. The first requirement under this act is that the petition must be filed in “good faith,” meaning that it is not being used as a ploy to detain an innocent individual. Additionally, it must be filed by someone who has direct knowledge that the person whom the petition is being filed against has a significant drug problem they cannot control. Usually, a significant drug problem is defined by being at risk of harming themselves or others unless they receive treatment. Another condition is that the individual in question must be in an “irrational” state,” meaning they do not have the capacity to make a rational decision on whether or not they need treatment. 

Filing a Petition Under the Marchman Act in Florida

To file a petition under the Marchman Act, you will need to start by picking up a packet at your local court. As a petitioner, you’ll need to provide information on the person against whom you are filing—the respondent— such as their birthday, address, weight, and other identifying factors. You’ll most likely need to provide specific details about their physical appearance and current behaviors. 

In addition, the petition will ask you to provide evidence that the person is currently abusing drugs or alcohol. This  “proof” can come in a variety of forms including:

  • Statements or actions the respondent has made that show they could cause physical harm to themselves or others. 
  • Evidence the respondent has refused treatment in the past, denied they had a problem, or failed to show up for a scheduled treatment.
  • Recent incidents of the respondent using drugs.

Sometimes, it can be complicated to navigate the filing process and determine what evidence to include in the forms. Working with an attorney is the best way to ensure you properly file your petition. Once the petition is filed, a clerk will set a date for a court hearing within a 10-day time frame from when you filed. A judge will review the petition and either grant or deny it without a hearing or set a hearing date. 

During the hearing, you will provide testimony about your personal interactions, observations, and experiences with the respondent. If after hearing your testimony the judge decides that a drug abuse assessment is needed, they will sign the order. The Marchman Act allows for a five-day period to complete this assessment and stabilize the respondent before they are either released or forced into treatment. 

Should I file a Florida Marchman Act Order?

Determining how to care for a close friend or family member struggling with drug abuse can be a challenge. Ultimately, whether or not you choose to file a Florida Marchman Act Order is a personal choice. You are the only one who knows the situation and severity of your friend or family member’s drug problem. Consulting with a skilled attorney is a great resource for determining if this is a viable legal route to take. 

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

It can be challenging and emotional to navigate a loved one’s drug abuse problem. Depending on the scenario, filing a Florida Marchman Act Order can be a great legal option for getting help to your friend or family member despite their denial. At The Umansky Law Firm, our attorneys are dedicated to helping you determine whether this is the best path to take and ensure you file a petition properly. To schedule a free consultation, call (407) 228-3838 or complete an online contact form for a free consultation.