The Florida Marchman Act-The Baker Act's Little-Known Cousin

Friday, May 1, 2015
One of the toughest things families of people with substance abuse problems encounter is convincing loved ones to get the help they need.  In the state of Florida, there is a law called the Marchman Act which may allow some relief.

What is the Marchman Act?

The Marchman Act is very similar to the Baker Act, in that it allows for the involuntary confinement of a person in order to receive treatment for a substance abuse problem. For more information on the Baker Act, click here.

Who Can Invoke the Marchman Act?

Under the statute, a blood relative, spouse or any three people with direct knowledge of a person's substance abuse are able to invoke the act and initiate confinement procedures.  In cases of a present emergency, a single person with knowledge of the substance abuse impairment can request a Marchman Act admission.

If you are familiar with the Florida Baker Act, you should know that the Marchman Act involuntary commitment procedures are significantly different. That being said, just as with the Baker Act, the police may begin the confinement and evaluation process if the officer comes into contact with a person the officer believes meets the Marchman Act criteria listed below.

Marchman Act Criteria.

According to the statute, a person meets the criteria for Marchman Act commitment if:
-There is a good faith reason to believe the person is substance abuse impaired and because of such impairment: Has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use; and either

-Has inflicted, or threatened or attempted to inflict, or unless admitted is likely to inflict, physical harm on himself or herself or another; or
-Is in need of substance abuse services and, by reason of substance abuse impairment,   his or her judgment has been so impaired that the person is incapable of appreciating his or her need for such services and of making a rational decision in regard thereto; however, mere refusal to receive such services does not constitute evidence of lack of judgment with respect to his or her need for such services.
Section 397.675, Florida Statutes.

The Marchman Act Process.

It’s recommended that once you have decided to pursue a petition for involuntary assessment and stabilization, you turn the case over to an attorney who is experienced in handling Marchman Act cases. This is because non-attorneys are unfamiliar with the rules of civil procedure governing court proceedings, as well as the fact that there are multiple different requirements depending on whose confinement is sought. Finally, the court may appoint an attorney for your family member who will try to get the petition dismissed. In that case, you may quickly find yourself outmatched legally.


Have you had any experience with a family member or friend being involuntarily confined under the Baker Act? How did you handle the situation? How did the victim react to being confined? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Victims of Involuntary Confinement Through the Baker Act and Marchman Act.

The Health Law Firm represents individuals, families and friends in challenges to and hearings related to the Florida Baker Act and Marchman Act, when the basic criteria for confinement are not met and there is no medical necessity for further confinement.

Our firm has a process we follow to make sure that a person who should not be held under the Baker Act may be released in a very short time.  If the basic criteria for a Baker Act confinement are not present, the person is not required to be held and should be released.  If the person has been living independently for decades, has family and a support system available, and has had no prior mental health problems, the odds are he or she should not be involuntarily confined.  We act immediately to begin our representation, to make the hospital and its physicians aware that we are representing you, and to take measures to obtain release.  If required, we are prepared to file an emergency Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus with the local Circuit Court to have you brought before the judge for an emergency release hearing.  These cases can be time intensive, require a great deal of immediate work, but can yield fast results in most cases.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at

Ferrero III, Raymond. "Information About the Florida Marchman Act." Treatment Solutions. (April 28, 2014).  From:

Orlando, James. “Florida Law On Substance Abuse Treatment.” OLR Research Report. (December 20, 2012). From:

About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Marchman Act, Florida Marchman Act, substance abuse, involuntary confinement, treatment, impairment, health law, Marchman Act defense, Marchman Act lawyer, Marchman Act attorney, defense lawyer, Marchment Act cases, substance abuse confinement, Marchman Act confinement crieteria
"The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.
Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm 5/1/2015

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