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Involuntary Mental Commitment Proceedings

Hon. David D. Manweiler and Michael C. Anderson, Deputy Ada County Prosecutor and Chrissy M. Wardle, Deputy Clerk

Hospitalization of the Mentally Ill


Idaho Code 66-317 et. seq.

Jurisdiction I

I.C. 66-328, titled Jurisdiction of proceedings for commitment, was amended in 2009 and now states: Proceedings for the care of mentally ill persons shall be had in the district court of the county where the person to be treated resides or in the district court of any other county of this state where such person is found. I.C. 66-328(2009). A letter from the county of residence pledging to pay costs is no longer necessary for a non-residence county to act.

Jurisdiction II

Judicial proceedings for involuntary commitment shall not be commenced with respect to a voluntary patient unless release of the patient has been requested by himself or the individual who applied for his admission. I.C. 66-320(b). Nothing in the Involuntary Commitment Statutes may be construed to authorize the detention or involuntarily commit of a person having the following unless, in addition thereto, a mental illness exists:

Epilepsy, Developmental disability, Physical disability, Intellectual disability, Chronic alcoholism or drug abuse, or Aged.

I.C. 66-329(13)(a).

Involuntary Commitment Proceedings may be commenced in three ways:


Idaho Code 66-320, the Administrative Hold. Idaho Code 66-326, Police or Doctor hold. Idaho Code 66-329, Field Application.

Administrative Hold, I.C. 66-320

The director of a facility may detain a patient for three days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays for the purpose of examination by a designated examiner and the filing of an application for continued care and treatment, if the following exist (I.C. 66-320(a)):

A voluntary patient admitted to a facility pursuant to I.C. 66-318, asks to be released. I.C. 66-320(a). The director of the facility determines that the patient should be hospitalized under the involuntary commitment statute. I.C. 66-320(a)(3).

Assuming the designated examiner is of the opinion the patient meets criteria for commitment, Pursuant to I.C. 66-329(1), the director of a facility may then commence involuntary commitment proceedings by making an application for commitment.

I. Police or Doctor Hold, I.C. 66-326.


No person shall be taken into custody or detained as an alleged emergency patient for observation, diagnosis, evaluation, care or treatment of mental illness unless and until the court has ordered such apprehension and custody under the provision outlined in section 66-329, Idaho Code. I.C. 66-326(1). The only exception to the above restriction is that a peace officer or physician medical staff member may take into custody or detain a person if they have reason to believe:

The person is gravely disabled due to mental illness. I.C. 66-326(1). Or, The persons continued liberty poses an imminent danger to that person or others, as evidence by a threat of substantial physical harm. I.C. 66-326(1).

When ever a person is taken into custody or detained under [I.C. 66-326] without court order, the evidence supporting the claim of grave disability due to mental illness or imminent danger must be presented to a duly authorized court within twenty-four (24) hours from the time the individual was placed in custody or detained. I.C. 66326(1).

II. Police or Doctor Hold, I.C. 66-326.

If the court finds the person to be gravely disabled due to mental illness or imminently dangerous, the court shall issue a Temporary Custody Order that requires:
The person to be held in a facility. The examination of the person by a designated examiner within 24 hours of entry of the Temporary Custody Order.

I.C. 66-326(2).

III. Police or Doctor Hold, I.C. 66-326.

If the designated examiner finds the person meets criteria for involuntary commitment, the prosecuting attorney shall file, within twenty-four (24) hours of the examination of the person, a petition with the court. I.C. 66-326(4). The petition shall request the patients detention pending commitment proceedings pursuant to the provisions of section 66-329, Idaho Code. Failure to file the petition within 24 hours of the DE examination will result in the patient being released from the facility. I.C. 66-326(4). Upon receipt of the petition, the court shall order the persons detention and set a commitment hearing within five days, including weekends and holidays. I.C. 66-326(4).

I. Field Application I.C. 66-329.

Proceedings for the involuntary care and treatment of mentally ill persons by the department of health and welfare may be commenced by the filing of a written application with a court of competent jurisdiction by the following:

friend, relative, spouse or guardian of the proposed patient, a licensed physician, prosecuting attorney, or other public official of a municipality, county or of the state of Idaho, or the director of any facility in which such patient may be.

I.C. 66-329(1).

II. Field Application I.C. 66-329.

The application shall contain the following:


The proposed patients name and last known address. The name and address of the proposed patients spouse, guardian, or next of kin or friend. Whether the proposed patient can be cared for privately in the event commitment is not ordered. If the proposed patient is, at the time of the application, a voluntary patient and whether the proposed patient has applied for release pursuant to I.C. 66-320. A simple and precise statement of the facts showing that the proposed patient is mentally ill and either likely to injure himself or others or is gravely disabled due to mental illness.

I.C. 66-329(2).

III. Field Application I.C. 66-329.

Upon receipt of the application and certificate of designated examiner, and within 48 hours, the court shall :

Appoint a second designated examiner to examine the proposed patient as to his/her mental condition and need for care, custody, or treatment by a facility. The designated examiner shall report in writing his/her findings to the court within the following 72 hours. At least one of the designated examiners must be a psychiatrist, licensed physician, or licensed psychologist.

I.C. 66-329(4).

I. Involuntary Commitment Hearing

Upon receipt of the application for commitment and the DE certificate, the court shall appoint a time and place for hearing and give notice of the hearing: Hearings based upon I.C. 66-320 and 66-329 applications shall be within 7 days from receipt of DE certificates. I.C. 66-329(6). Hearings based upon I.C. 66-326 application shall be within 5 days (including weekends and holidays) of the courts issuing the detention order. I.C. 66-326(4). The proposed patient shall be afforded the opportunity to be represented by counsel, including appointment of the public defenders office. I.C. 66-329(7).

II. Involuntary Commitment Hearing


The involuntary commitment procedure established by I.C. 66-317 et. Seq., is civil in nature. I.C. 66-329(10). See also Glasco v. Brassard, 94 Idaho 162, 889 P.2d 924 (1971). The Rules of Evidence apply to involuntary commitment hearings. I.C. 66329(10). DE Certificates may not be relied upon as evidence at an involuntary commitment hearing, unless they have been admitted into evidence. See Bradshaw v. State, 120 Idaho 429, 816 P.2d 986(1991). The designated examiners who examined the patient are considered competent witnesses to testify at the patients commitment hearing. I.C. 66-329(9). The standard of proof is clear and convincing evidence. I.C. 66-329(11).

III. Involuntary Commitment Hearing

If the court commits the patient, the court must find:


The patient is mentally ill and is likely to injure self, injure others or is gravely disabled. I.C. 66-329(11). The patient lacks capacity to make informed decisions about treatment. I.C. 66-329(14). Pursuant to I.C. 66-356, whether the patient is a person to whom the provision of 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(4) and (g)(4) apply):

The patient has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.

Whether the patient is indigent and the patients county of residence. I.C. 66-327(a) and In Re Daniel W., 145 Idaho 677, 183 P.3d 765 (2008).

Thirty Day Abeyance

'Holding proceedings in abeyance' means an alternative to judicial commitment based upon an agreement entered into by all parties, including the proposed patient, and agreed to by the court, providing for voluntary conditions of treatment, which holds in a state of suspension or inactivity the petition for involuntary commitment. I.C. 66-317(16). A thirty day abeyance is considered a reasonable alternative to commitment. I.C. 66-329(11). The terms of the abeyance set out what the patient needs to do to avoid commitment. If proceedings are held in abeyance and the patient violates the terms of the abeyance, it is necessary to have another DE examine the patient before resuming commitment proceedings because the state must show the patient is mentally ill and is likely to injure self, injure others, or is gravely disabled. See I.C. 66-311(11)(a) and (11)(b).

Fixing Costs

The Idaho Supreme Court held that pursuant to I.C. 66-327(a) the magistrate must consider indigency and fix costs during commitment proceedings. In Re Daniel W., 145 Idaho 677, 671, 183 P.3d 765, 769 (2008). Idaho Supreme Court, in a recent decision, quoted I.C. 66-327(a) as follows:

"[T]he court shall fix responsibility, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 35, title 31, Idaho Code, for payment of such costs on the county of such person's residence to the extent not paid by such person or not covered by third party resources, including medical assistance as aforesaid."

Mental Commitment Orders and Disqualification of Federal Firearm Rights

Under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(4), any person who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or is committed to a mental institution is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing any firearm or ammunition.

Adjudicated as a Mental Defective

If a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority has made a determination that the person,.as a result of mental illness,.condition, or disease:
Is a danger to himself or to others; Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs; Is found insane by a court in a criminal case; or Is found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason lack of mental responsibility under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Committed to a Mental Institution

Occurs when a person has been formally committed to a mental institution by a court, board, commission, or other legal authority including commitment:
To a mental institution involuntarily; For mental defectiveness or mental disease; or For such other reasons, such as drug use.

Observation or Voluntary Commitment

Committed to a Mental Institution does not include a person who is in a mental institution for observation or by voluntary admission. Temporary holds, prior to a formal hearing (even if under a court order) do not activate the disqualification. Abeyance orders do not activate the disqualification since there is no finding by the court of a mental defect or disease.

Practice Tips

Request admission/financial information from hospital; Develop forms for commitment, abeyance, fixing of costs and dismissal; Control proposed patients conduct in the courtroom; Take the matter under advisement, have patient removed from courtroom before rendering decision; Prepare accurate and detailed minutes, particularly if hearing is held in hospital; Prepare an SOS kit, complete with recorder, tapes, forms, pens, file stamp, etc; Fax orders to required parties immediately following hearing.

Questions?