Petitions are available for both adults and minors. The petitioner is often a family member who is concerned about the individual’s behavior and suspects that there may be a need for intervention. Chapter 397 provides the means for an individual in need of substance abuse services (assessment and/or treatment) on either on a voluntary or involuntary basis, to receive emergency services and temporary placement for evaluation while treatment modality is explored.
Generally speaking, a Marchman Petition is a civil procedure that allows family and friends, in cases involving a minor the petitioner is a parent or guardian to a minor, to petition the court and seek help for suspected substance abuse problem. Marchman Petition cases, whether adult or juvenile, is heard by General Magistrates. General Magistrates are judicial officers with limited authority to administer and enforce the law.
Based upon the petition the court may issue an order for involuntary assessment, stabilization and/or treatment if it is determined that there is a reasonable belief that the youth is substance abuse impaired and:
- has lost the power of self control with respect to substance use; and either
- has inflicted or is likely to inflict physical harm on him/herself or others unless admitted; or
- the person's judgment is so impaired they are incapable of appreciating the need for care and making a rational decision regarding such care; or
- the person has refused to seek voluntary care.
Although the intent of the Marchman Petition is to seek and obtain services for substance use, under the Marchman Act if the individual refuses to comply with the court order the youth can be held in contempt, which may include being held in detention facility.
It is often difficult for family members to initiate this process because parents do not want their children involved in the court system. Filing of a Marchman petition does not have an effect upon the youth’s personal record because it is not a criminal action. It is generally a last recourse for a parent after failed attempts to help their children with a suspected substance use problem.
Filing of a Marchman Petition can be completed by visiting the Clerks of the Court and requesting the forms.