In order to understand what you can and can not do you need to understand fully how this "Hold" process works so you will be aware how to help your wife.
California law allows police (and certain other designated mental healthprofessionals) to take you into custody if they believe that, due to a mentaldisorder, you are:
1. A danger to yourself, and/or
2. A danger to others, and/or
3. Gravely disabled. (Grave disability is defined as: “a condition in which aperson, as a result of a mental disorder, is unable to provide for his or herbasic personal needs for food, clothing or shelter.”)
Under this law, you are taken to a psychiatric hospital. There, the profes-sional staff may detain you for up to 72 hours if they, too, find that you meetthe above criteria (danger to self, danger to others, and/or grave disabilitydue to a mental disorder.)
If your wife is determined to not need further treatment then she would be released.
By the end of the 72 hours, one of the following three things will happen:
1. You will have been released, or
2. You will have signed in as a voluntary patient, or
3. You will be put on a 14-day involuntary hold (called “certification forintensive treatment”).
At the end of the 72 hours, if the treating psychiatrist believes that you arestill, due to a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism:
1. Dangerous to yourself, and/or
2. Dangerous to others, and/or
3. Gravely disabled,
and he or she believes that you are unwilling or unable to accept voluntarytreatment, then he or she may detain you for an additional 14-day period.This is called a “certification for intensive treatment.” At this time, you areentitled to written notice of this fact, including a statement of specific rea-sons for the psychiatrist’s decisions.
By the end of the 14-day hold, one of these three things will happen:
1. You will have been released (by staff, or at your certification review hear-ing, or at a writ hearing), or
2. You will have signed in as a voluntary patient, or
3. You may be held for additional period of time:
a.If you are still considered dangerous to yourself, you may be recerti-fied for another 14-day hold.
b.If you are still considered dangerous to others, the court may put a 180-day post-certification hold on you. This hold is renewable.
c.If you are still considered “gravely disabled,” you may either:
• Be placed on a 30-day hold for additional intensive treatment, or
• Be placed under Temporary Conservatorship and then a full one-yearConservatorship, which is renewable. In this event, a conservatorwill make your major life decisions, including where you live andhow your money is spent.
• In some circumstances, after being placed on a 30-day hold, conser-vatorship papers may be filed. In this case, the Temporary Conser-vatorship runs concurrently with (at the same time as) the 30-dayhold. [Not all counties will put the 30-day hold into effect. Checkwith your county Patients’ Rights Advocate to find out if yourcounty does.]
Because you are held involuntarily on the 72-hour and 14-day holds, yourliberty interest is defined. You are entitled to certain procedures (“due pro-cess”) to make sure that these holds are proper, or meet the criteria above.Working with your advocate or lawyer to show that you do not meet thegrounds for the hold will result in your release.
1. Certification Review Hearing
When you are certified for an additional 14 days (as well as for an addi-tional 30 days), you are also entitled to notice of your certification reviewhearing. This informal hearing will be held within four days of the begin-ning of the certification unless you or your advocate request a brief post-ponement.
The purpose of this hearing is for a neutral person to review whether it is(was) proper for you to be held for the extra period. The hearing is foryour benefit. It insures that patients will not be routinely certified unlessthey meet the criteria.
You don’t have to request a certification review hearing. It is automati-cally scheduled, to guarantee that no patient misses out on a hearing dueto an inability to ask for one, intimidation, fear of requesting one, or forany other reason. The hospital, not you, has the burden of justifying whyit recommends holding you.
2. Writ of Habeas Corpus Hearing
At the time you are first given the notice of certification described above,you are also entitled to notice about the right to appear before a judge in alegal proceeding called writ of habeas corpus hearing. At this hearing,you are entitled to be represented by court-appointed or private legalcounsel who must help you challenge the grounds of the involuntaryhold.
A hearing for writ of habeas corpus does not happen automatically. Youmust make a specific request for one by notifying the person who gaveyou the certification notice, or any member of the treatment staff at thehospital.
In many counties, patients may make direct contact with the public orprivate defenders’ offices, who will then make arrangements for a hear-ing. The patients’ rights advocate is often available as well to help inmaking arrangements.
If you ask to file a writ of habeas corpus right at the time of being givennotice of certification, the Certification Review Hearing will not takeplace. Many patients wait to see how things go at the certification reviewhearing. There are two reasons why this is advisable. First, the certification review hearing is generally scheduled as soon as, if not sooner than,a writ hearing. Second, if you lose at the certification review hearing, youcan then take advantage of the right to file writ of habeas corpus and endup having two hearings, instead of just one.
If you request a writ of habeas corpus hearing during the 72-hour hold,there will probably not be time for you to go to court during that hold.However, the request should prevent your being transferred to a hospitalin another county.