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Civil Commitment


​Civil commitment is a process in which a judge decides whether a person alleged to be mentally ill should be required to accept mental health treatment.

​A civil commitment is not a criminal conviction and will not go on a criminal record.​​

​When a civil commitment petition has been filed, an investigator from the Community Mental Health Program (CMHP) investigates the need for the commitment. Depending on the investigator’s decision:

  • ​The case may be dismissed without a hearing, 
  • The person may go into a diversion program, or 
  • A​ hearing may be held. 

​If a hearing is held, the person has a lawyer and witnesses testify. The judge then makes a decision whether the person should be committed.

​A person can be committed if the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person has a mental disorder and, because of that mental disorder, is:

  • ​Dangerous to self or others, or
  • Unable to provide for basic personal needs like health and safety.

A person can also be committed if the judge finds that the person is:

  • Diagnosed as having a major mental illness such as schizophrenia or manic-depression, and
  • Has been committed and hospitalized twice in the last three years, is showing symptoms or behavior similar to those that preceded and led to a prior hospitalization and, 
  • Unless treated, will continue, to a reasonable medical probability, to deteriorate to become a danger to self or others or unable to provide for basic needs.​

​If the person is committed, the person may be hospitalized or may be required to undergo treatment in some other setting.​