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If you are concerned for your safety, your friend’s/acquaintance’s safety or the safety of those living in your household due to his or her substance abuse, please contact your local police immediately.

If your friend/acquaintance meets certain criteria, you may file petitions under the Marchman Act. Any adult who has personal knowledge of a person’s substance abuse impairment, not only family members, may file a petition under the Marchman Act.

The Marchman Act is a two-step process. The first step is to file a Petition for Assessment and Stabilization in which the court determines whether your friend/acquaintance should be subject to an order requiring him or her to receive an involuntarily substance abuse assessment.

The second step is to file a Petition for Treatment in which the court determines whether your friend/acquaintance should be subject to an order requiring him or her to receive involuntary substance abuse treatment for up to 60 days.

The criteria for a Petition for Assessment and Stabilization is when there is good faith reason to believe an individual is substance-abuse impaired and because of that impairment, has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use AND:

  • Needs substance abuse services and lacks the ability to rationally decide that he or she needs substances abuse services; OR
  • Is likely to suffer from neglect that presents a threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being or is likely to threaten to or attempt to inflict physical harm on himself/herself or another person.

Before a Petition for Treatment can be filed, a Petition for Assessment and Stabilization must be filed and ruled upon. So, please see the criteria for the Petition for Assessment and Stabilization.

If the Petition for Assessment and Stabilization was granted, then a substance abuse facility will assess and stabilize your friend/acquaintance and will send a written assessment to the court. The court relies upon the written assessment to make a decision on the Petition for Assessment and Stabilization.

You may hire an attorney to file the Petition for Assessment and Stabilization or Petition for Treatment.

Alternatively, you may go in person to the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts to complete and file the Petition for Assessment and Stabilization or Petition for Treatment yourself. The Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts is located at 73 West Flagler Street, Miami, Florida 33130, Room 234. Directions for completing the petitions are available here.

The Petition for Assessment and Stabilization must be set for hearing within 10 days. Notice of hearing is provided by mail to you and you must appear at the hearing. Your friend/acquaintance is served notice of hearing by the Sheriff. A General Magistrate presides. The hearing takes place at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building at 1351 NW 12th Street, Miami, Florida 33125.

After hearing all relevant testimony, the court may enter an Order for Involuntary Assessment. Unless arrangements have been made for assessment at a private facility, the court order shall direct the Sheriff's Office to take your friend/acquaintance into custody and deliver him/her to a public facility licensed by the Department of Children and Families. The facility will assess and stabilize your friend/acquaintance for a period not to exceed five days. A written assessment is sent to the court. If the written assessment recommends involuntary treatment, you may move onto step two of the Marchman Act and file a Petition for Involuntary Treatment.

Before a Petition for Treatment can be filed, a Petition for Assessment and Stabilization must be filed and ruled upon. A Petition for Involuntary treatment may be filed if the written assessment prepared as a result of the Petition for Assessment and Stabilization ruling is reviewed by the court and the recommendation is involuntary treatment.

Notice of hearing is provided by mail to you and any attorney on record and you must appear at the hearing. Your friend/acquaintance is once again served notice of hearing by a Sheriff. A General Magistrate presides at the hearing. The hearing takes place at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building at 1351 NW 12th Street, Miami, Florida 33125. After taking all relevant testimony, the court may enter an order for involuntary treatment for a period not to exceed 60 days. It may also direct the Sheriff to take your friend/acquaintance into custody and delivery him to the licensed facility.

If the judge signed the Order for Involuntary Treatment and directed the Sheriff to take your friend/acquaintance into custody and deliver him/her to the licensed service provider, then the sheriff will take your friend/acquaintance to the licensed service provider immediately.

If the judge signed the Order for Involuntary Treatment and did not direct the Sheriff to take your friend/acquaintance into custody and deliver him/her to the licensed service provider, then you will need to make arrangements to find a licensed facility for your friend/acquaintance. All treatments are coordinated through the South Florida Behavioral Health Network. You may contact them at 305-858-3335 or at http://sfbhn.org.

The case is closed. You may file another Petition for Assessment and Stabilization or Petition for Involuntary Treatment at another date if your friend/acquaintance meets the criteria in the future.

You may file a Re-Petition for Involuntary Treatment. The form is available at the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Office at 73 West Flagler Street, Room 234, Miami, Florida 33130. Please check box “f” which states: “Respondent is nearing the scheduled date of release from involuntary services pursuant to a court order; however, Respondent continues to meet the criteria for involuntary services contained in Section 397.693, Florida Statutes.”

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