Marchman Act

What is the Marchman Act?

Chapter 397 of the Florida Statutes is known as the "Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993." The Marchman Act provides for the involuntary or voluntary assessment, stabilization and treatment of a person abusing or addicted to drugs or alcohol. The first step is a substance abuse assessment. If the assessment indicates treatment is needed, the second step is providing court ordered treatment.

Who can file a Petition for Involuntary Assessment and/or Treatment?

The petition for an adult may be filed by the following:

  • a spouse
  • a guardian
  • any relative
  • a private practitioner
  • a director of a licensed service provider or designee (with power of attorney)
  • any three adults with personal knowledge of the person’s substance abuse

For a minor, the petition may be filed by:

  • a parent
  • a legal guardian or custodian
  • a licensed service provider

How do I petition the court for an Involuntary Marchman Act Assessment?

Appear in person at the Clerk & Comptroller's office to complete a sworn affidavit/petition for both assessment and treatment. Arrive at the office by 4:30 PM to allow time for processing. Provide information as to the person's behavior, identification and location.

What happens after the petitions are completed and filed with the clerk?

The clerk initiates a court case for the involuntary assessment portion of the process and the case is set for hearing within 10 days. If the subject of the Marchman Act is a minor, the court also appoints an attorney to represent the minor. The respondent is served with the petition and notice of hearing by the Sheriff’s Office. The petitioner cannot accept service for the respondent. Service can be left for the respondent with someone living at the same address, excluding the petitioner. If the respondent is homeless, a process server can be hired to locate and serve the individual. Fees start at $25. Testimony is given at the hearing for involuntary assessment. If the person meets the criteria for a Marchman Act assessment, the judge signs an order granting the petition and setting the appointment for assessment. If the respondent is present at the hearing, the court gives them the opportunity to appear voluntarily at the appointment. If the respondent was served but is not present at the hearing or does not show up for the court ordered assessment appointment, the court orders them to be picked up and taken for assessment by the Sheriff’s Office.

What happens after the assessment?

Within 5 days, the court must receive the written assessment from the service provider and, if the criteria for treatment is met, the Petition for Involuntary Treatment is created. A treatment hearing is scheduled within 10 days after the report is received. The respondent will be served a summons to appear in court at the scheduled the hearing date. The Petitioner will be mailed a notice to appear at the hearing. At the hearing, the Magistrate may order a minimum of 60 days treatment that the individual must complete; the facility may petition for an extension of treatment. Treatment facilities are not locked down; if the respondent leaves treatment, the facility will notify the court and a status conference hearing may be set. If the respondent does not appear at this hearing, a show cause hearing may be set. If the respondent does not appear for the show cause hearing, the court may find the respondent in contempt of court.

What is an Incapacity Proceeding?

It is usually initiated as the first step in the process of establishing a guardianship. By Florida law, this procedure requires an attorney.

What is the fee for the Petition to Determine Incapacity?

See Fees and Costs for current fees. There is an additional fee for the guardianship proceeding.

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