Marchman Act (Substance Abuse)

Services available in the Probate Division (Basement Room 5-Courthouse). We urge you to bring in your completed Petition in the early morning hours if you wish for it to be heard during the current working day.

Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization Florida Statutes 397.301

A Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization may be filed in the Probate Division of the Clerk’s Office at the County Court House, 490 South Commerce Avenue, Sebring, Florida 33870. A person may be the subject of a petition for court-ordered involuntary treatment if that person meets the criteria for involuntary admission provided in Florida Statutes 397.675 and 397.693. Marchman Act Form. Involuntary admission to a facility for substance abuse (not to exceed 5 days).

If the petition is being filed on an adult, it may filed by:
  • the spouse or guardian,
  • any relative,
  • a private practitioner,
  • the director of a licensed substance abuse agency, OR
  • any adult who has personal knowledge of the individual’s substance
  • abuse impairment.
If the petition is being filed on an adult, it may filed by:
  • parent,
  • legal guardian,
  • legal custodian,
  • a licensed service provider

The following criteria must be explained by a party seeking involuntary admission for an individual who refuses voluntary substance abuse treatment:

(1)   I believe the individual is substance abuse impaired



(2)   I believe that because of such impairment the individual has lost the

        power of self-control with respect to substance abuse


(3)   I believe that the individual has inflicted or is likely to inflict
        physical harm on himself or others unless admitted
I believe that the individual’s refusal to voluntarily receive care is based on judgment so impaired by reason of substance abuse that the individual is incapable of appreciating his/her need for care and of making rational decision regarding that need or care because____________. Also note if a voluntary assessment has been refused.

After a petition is filed, a hearing may be scheduled before a circuit court judge. In some extreme cases, an ex parte order for the person to be picked up and assessed may be issued instead of a hearing.

The petitioner will receive notice of the date of the hearing by mail.

The individual believed to have the substance abuse problem will be served with a Notice of Hearing.

At every stage of the process the respondent is entitled to be represented by an attorney.

At the hearing, the Judge will determine whether a court ordered admission is necessary and the least restrictive placement for the assessment (inpatient or outpatient)

At the hearing, information needs to be presented to the Judge as to where the individual may be taken for the assessment

If an individual refuses to comply with court-ordered involuntary assessment or treatment, a finding of indirect criminal contempt may be ordered.

The Petitioner must be present at the hearing and be prepared to testify as to the evidence supporting the facts stated in the petition.

An attorney of the petitioner’s choice may be necessary to insure that the petition is filed correctly and that the evidence is properly presented at the hearing.

Witnesses must be present at the hearing to testify to HAVING PERSONALLY SEEN THE PERSON USING DRUGS as well as other dangerous behaviors.

Within 5 days after an involuntary admission for assessment on a judge’s order or three days for other involuntary admission for assessment, the individual must be assessed to determine the need for further treatment, voluntary admission or discharge if it is found that the criteria are net met.