How to fight the Baker Act?
August 24, 2010 8:14 PM Subscribe
My daughter has been detained under Florida's Baker Act
. A statement she made to a social worker was mis-interpreted, and she is being held against her will at a mental health facility.
Longer version: She's a college student, just turned 18, so she is an adult as of May. A counselor at her school mis-interpreted something that she said to mean that she was in immediate danger of harming herself. I have spoken to her about this, and she swears that she was mis-understood. This social worker called to police, and she has now been held mostly incommunicado since Sunday evening, late. She just want to go back to her dorm and classes.
According to the law, if they deem she requires further in-patient detention, they must take her before a judge and hold a competency hearing. The judge visits their facility every Thursday for this specific purpose. By the book, they can't legally hold her past 1:45 AM thursday -- except to detain her until the hearing. If they decide to keep her tomorrow, and hold a competency hearing, do I need to lawyer up immediately? Can I even retain a lawyer for her, since she's an adult, or does she need to retain one herself? She has no phone and no money where she is, currently -- I can only speak to her if she happens to be within reach of a single ward phone in the dayroom. They don't let her call long distance, except collect -- I am in another state, almost 1500 miles away and she has no friends or family close by. She's been in Florida for 2 weeks, exactly.
How do these things usually play out? They have no grounds, but have kept her for three days, already, each day saying they would release her that day, then changing their minds. Today it was because she didn't eat all of her breakfast. When I spoke to her this evening, she told me the food was terrible. She has NO eating disorder, or history of one. Then, they said this afternoon she seemed depressed. (NO SHIT -- she's locked up against her will in a state far, far from home, and no one will tell her what the hell is going on. What is a proper emotional response to being kidnapped by the system?)
What kind of lawyer will she/I need? Do I need to get my ass in the car and drive to Florida NOW? Do I have TIME to get a lawyer between now and Thursday -- whenever the hearing might be? Are there any not-crazy (Beware Scientologists are lurking around this thing, pretending to be anti Baker-Act advocates. They're not.) groups that advocate on behalf of people wrongly detained under this act? What are the odds that she'll be remanded to the state "indefinitely?" This is a normal 18-yer-old college kid who has occasional anxiety issues, and takes an ant-anxiety medication. She's a fully functioning member of society, very intelligent, motivated and organized. Moreso that 95% of kids her age. Do I have anything to fear? Help?
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