What is the Florida Baker Act law?

Law created in 1972 by former Miami Rep. Maxine Baker

Everett Glenn Miller, the man accused of killing two Kissmmee officers, Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Richard "Sam" Howard, has been involuntarily  committed to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act. News 6 wanted to ask questions about the Florida law intended to help get people health treatment.

So, what is the Baker Act?

The Baker Act is a Florida law was created by former Miami representative Maxine Baker, who sponsored the 1972 bill that allows families or loved ones to provide urgent mental health evaluations or in-patient detentions for loved ones who are unable to determine on their own that they need mental health help, according to the University of Florida Health.

Baker, who was the chairperson of the House Committee on Mental Health, created the act to help encourage voluntary commitments.

“In the name of mental health, we deprive them of their most precious possession – liberty," Representative Baker said before the act was passed.

Two types of Baker Acts

A person is under a voluntary Baker Act when they are able to consent to needing treatment to get better. The application of admission to a facility for observation or treatment occurs when someone applies over the age of 18, or with parent or guardian consent if the person is under 17.

A person is under an involuntary Baker Act if they are taken to a facility where it is believed that the person needs help and has refused voluntary observation, and someone believes that he or she could cause harm to themselves or others without the proper treatment.

In order to start the process for an involuntary Baker Act admission, the person can be brought in by law enforcement, served a circuit court ex parte order, or recommended treatment by health care workers, according to statutes outlined by the state. 

A person can be held on the Baker Act for up to 72 hours. During the evaluation process, the person must be released on the following conditions: they were not charged with a crime, they have been given outpatient treatment or consent has been sent to voluntary placement, according to the criteria under the Baker Act evaluation intake process.