Joe Considine, Esq. continues to explain the Marchman Act process by describing what takes place during the hearing.
If the loved one is a minor, he or she will have the representation of a court appointed attorney.
Testimony is given to the Judge at the hearing for involuntary assessment. You will bring to the hearing those several friends and family members who have firsthand knowledge of the loved one’s condition. The Judge or Magistrate will want to know all that your witnesses have personally observed about the loved one which will lead the Judge to the conclusion that he or she needs to be assessed and then later needs treatment.
If the loved one meets the criteria for a Marchman Act assessment, the Judge signs an order granting the petition and setting the appointment for assessment. Many times the Judge or Magistrate orders the assessment to take place at the time of the hearing. The assessment can take up to an hour and is done by an addiction professional, many times a psychologist contracted with by the courts.
If the loved one was served but is not at the hearing or does not show up for the court ordered assessment appointment, the Judge or Magistrate will have the sheriff pick up the loved one and transported to the assessment location.
If the assessment indicates that treatment is needed, either at the same assessment hearing or a subsequent hearing for treatment, the Judge or Magistrate may order a minimum of 60 days treatment that the loved one must complete. The treatment facility can later ask the Court for more time than 60 days.
Treatment facilities are not locked down, hence, there is no way to prevent the loved one from leaving. If your loved one decides to leave the facility, the Court will be made aware and a status conference hearing may be set. If the loved one fails to appear at this hearing, a show cause hearing may be set. If the loved one does not appear for the show cause hearing, the court may find the loved one in contempt of court and ordered to treatment again or otherwise sanctioned.
Are there any assurances that a Marchman Act proceeding will get my loved one the help he or she needs? No, there are no assurances. That is the nature of the disease of addiction. But it will surely make him or her realize that the people who love him are serious about getting help. Usually, filing the petition is one of the steps the family needs to take to set boundaries with the loved one as well such as no more financial or other support if the loved one decides not to get help. Moreover, it will give the loved one a chance at recovery. The experience of various addiction and treatment professionals with whom I have consulted is that many times filing the petition for involuntary assessment is the first step which ultimately leads (albeit down a bumpy and scary road) to recovery.
Thank you Joe.