Marchman Act Basics

The Marchman Act allows the Court to issue an order which requires an impaired individual to participate in a drug and alcohol assessment. This includes any recommended treatment, and admission to an in-patient rehab center. A blood relative, spouse, or three concerned unrelated people may file a Petition for Assessment with the Court. The Court reviews your Petition for Assessment to determine if your concerns are legitimate and whether the impaired individual: 

  1. Has lost the power of self-control over their substance abuse.
  2. Do not appreciate their own need for help and cannot make rational decisions regarding their care as a result of their substance abuse.
  3. Have become a danger to themselves or others.

The Courts Review Petition

After reviewing your Petition, the Court either schedules a hearing or issues an order requiring police to deliver the impaired individual to a facility for treatment. If the Court schedules a hearing, then the Court will serve a summons on the impaired individual. The summons is a request for them to appear at the hearing, and you are also required to attend.

What Happens If The Petition Gets Granted

If the Court grants the Petition, then the impaired person may be admitted for a period of five (5) days to a hospital or a licensed detox center for an assessment. The facility will then make recommendations to the Court. Upon completion of an assessment, a Petition for Treatment may be filed with the Court. The Court will review the petition, the assessment, and the facility’s recommendation to determine if continued treatment is necessary. Following the assessment, the facility releases the impaired person pending a court hearing. The Court may then order the person to be committed for treatment. Once committed they may not be detained for more than sixty (60) days unless the Court orders an extension upon a petition for renewal.

Consequences of the Pandemic

The pandemic has had far-reaching consequences, including but not limited to loss of family members, job loss, limited social and family interactions, and increased anxiety/depression. It should come as no surprise there has also been an increase in substance use and overdoses. Provisional data in Florida indicates that from April to September 2020, there were 25,048 non-fatal drug overdoses. This is compared to only 19,191 non-fatal drug overdoses from April to September 2019. If you know someone struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction, the Florida Marchman Act may be an effective tool for you to force them to engage in treatment.

It is important to understand an impaired individual has the right to counsel at every stage of the case. If they cannot afford private counsel, they have a right to court-appointed counsel. Given this, we highly encourage people who want to file a Marchman Act Petition to consult with an attorney before doing so. At Schwam-Wilcox & Associates, we can assist you in filing a Marchman Act Petition and represent you during the proceeding. 

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