Feel your loved one’s legal rights have been abused during the implementation of Section 12 of Massachusetts’ General Laws?
If someone you care about is being held in a facility against their will, they have rights. The restraining period may also be limited.
Because that person could be mentally ill or has impaired judgment of substance abuse, the individual can’t help themselves. Therefore, as a caring family member or close friend, you must prioritize the individual’s best interests.
And you don’t have to do it alone. Our Section 12 lawyer, Mark Astor, is here to help with legal procedures. We believe that people in a mental crisis should receive health care without being treated like prisoners.
Contact us now with details of what happened. Plus, any legal action that has been taken. On your loved one’s behalf, we will act fast and do everything we can to get a wrongfully restrained patient released.
Read on to understand how Section 12 works and what to do if someone you love is unwillingly held in a hospital.
What Is the Section 12 Law in Massachusetts?
Section 12 of Chapter 123 of the Massachusetts General Laws was passed in 2010 and signed into law by former governor Deval Patrick.
Section 12 allows a mentally ill individual to be held against their will in a health facility for up to three days (72 hours). But specific conditions must be met for the restraint to be valid.
There must be a reasonable belief that if the person is not hospitalized, they are likely to cause serious harm because of their mental condition. The harm may include:
Involuntary hospitalization expires after 72 hours, excluding legal holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays. However, the hospital can petition the district court to hold you longer.
And that’s where the problem comes in:
Your loved one can be wrongfully restrained during a mental crisis.
It’s upon you to fight for the person and do your best to ensure you make the final decisions for them—not the State or mental health professionals. After all, you know the person better and have their best interests at heart.
But having the final say when someone you care about has been restrained may mean a legal battle with the mental facility.
A section 12 lawyer, Mark G. Astor, is sufficiently experienced to help you navigate the situation and have a fighting chance in maintaining control of the person’s mental condition.
Section 12 Law: Who Determines If a Person Can Unwillingly Be Held in a Facility?
Section 12 of the general laws of Massachusetts permits five types of professionals to “restrain or authorize the restraint” of a mentally ill individual. They include:
Any of these professionals must prove the likelihood of serious harm before invoking the section 12 law on your loved one. This means you have a fighting chance against mandatory hospitalization of the individual, even if you think there’s no hope.
The good news is that you don’t have to fight for your loved one alone. Read on to learn how an experienced attorney is a reliable option during these challenging times.
Your Loved One Is Forcibly Hospitalized Against Their Will: What Happens Next?
Massachusetts law permits a health facility to restrain someone for up to 72 hours (three, provided it’s reasonably necessary as per Section 12 of Chapter 123. These hours exclude holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
But what happens within and after the 72 hours?
The hospital can do two things in the three days:
If the court approves the request, the restrained individual is forced to commit to specific mental treatment, whether the person likes it or not. The involuntary treatment can last for as long as six months.
But if you believe the involuntary admission is wrongful or there was abuse, a Section 12 lawyer can help you seek emergency judicial review in district court.
An attorney ensures a person who should not be held under Section 12 is released in the shortest time possible. Without enough evidence that a mentally ill person is a threat to others or themselves, they should not be restrained in a health facility.
What Should You Do If Your Loved One Is Unwillingly Held in a Health Facility?
Call an experienced Section 12 attorney immediately. You or the restrained person can file a release petition with the district court. But the sooner you get professional help from a lawyer, the faster you deal with the situation.
You want the best chance of controlling your loved one’s mental situation instead of leaving the decision in the hands of strangers (the state or the restraining facility). You get that from a reliable Section 12 lawyer like Mark G. Astor.
How Do You Prevent Long-Term Involuntary Hold of Someone Close to You?
If the health facility restraining your loved one goes to court before you, the court can order mandatory treatment for up to six months.
This is bad news because the state of Massachusetts could start making decisions on behalf of your loved one. While you want the person to get necessary medical help, you don’t want strangers to have the final say and force treatment on the individual.
Can you prevent the hospital from filing a commitment petition that forces someone into involuntary treatment?
According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one way to prevent court-ordered commitment is by signing a conditional voluntary admission. By signing this hospital-provided document, the facility cannot pursue a court-ordered commitment.
The conditional voluntary status also allows the restrained person to sign a “three-day notice” of the intention to leave the hospital. This notice ensures the hospital can’t hold someone for more than three days.
It’s best to consult with a qualified attorney before signing conditional voluntary admission. This ensures the conditions in the document are in your loved one’s best interest.
The Hospital Has Held Your Loved One for More Than Three Days: What Does This Mean and What Can You Do?
If a health facility restrains someone for longer than three days, it most likely has already attained a commitment order from the court. If this occurs, your loved one could be held for up to six months in the facility.
What are your choices when the hospital has already attained court-ordered commitment?
You can hire a lawyer to file an appeal in the district court to review the commitment order.
If the appeal fails, you can petition for a release in a superior court. The superior court will arrange a hearing within seven days of receiving a petition.
During the hearing, you must prove the restrained person doesn’t need mandatory hospitalization. You need a competent lawyer who can develop a solid defense plan.
For instance, a health expert can evaluate the person’s mental condition and testify on your loved one’s behalf. This second opinion from a professional might disapprove of what the restraining hospital had initially established.
Remember, the hospital must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:
The restrained person poses a serious self-harming risk or is a danger to others;
Mental illness is the cause of these risks; and
No less restrictive alternatives are available or appropriate
If the superior court judge determines the person is unnecessarily restrained, the hospital will immediately release the patient.
4 Ways a Lawyer Helps If Someone You Care About Is Restrained
Hiring an attorney might be the best solution, even if you think there’s no hope. Here are four legitimate reasons to hire Mark Astor during these challenging times:
Reliable Legal Guidance During These Tough Times
The mere thought of your loved one being held against their will is torture. Why pile up the trouble and suffering with complicated legal procedures?
Let a competent and experienced worry about the legalities of your loved one’s case. Attorney Mark and the team will use their over two decades of experience to fight for what your restrained family member or friend is entitled to.
We understand Section 12 cases and Massachusetts laws. Let us guide you and your loved one through these challenging moments.
Once hired, we act instantly on our client’s behalf by notifying the hospital that we represent the restrained individual. Then, take necessary legal action that will potentially result in the release of your loved one.
We will do everything possible within the laws of Massachusetts to fight on the person’s behalf. If necessary, we will appeal a commitment order on our client’s behalf or petition for a release hearing in a superior court.
In a release hearing, you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the restrained person doesn’t need court-ordered commitment.
You need extensive experience, mastery of the law, and the ability to establish facts that will convince the judge. But you don’t have to worry about that because we are here to help.
Because of our experience handling Section 12 cases, we are more likely to get results faster than proceeding solo. If we act early, there’s a big chance of securing the release of your loved one quickly.
Call us now if someone you love is restrained under Section 12 of Chapter 123 of the Massachusetts General Law.