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Marchman Act

What is Marchman Act?

The Marchman Act provides assessment and treatment to those who are abusing drugs or alcohol and meet certain criteria.

What is the criteria for a Marchman Act?

The Marchman Act is used in circumstances where there is good faith reason to believe the person is substance abused impaired, and, because of such impairment.

  • Has lost the power of self control with respect to substance abuse;

And either

  • Has inflicted, or threatned or attempted to inflict, or unless admitted is likely to inflict, physical harm on himself or helself or another;


  • Is in need of substance abuse services and, by reason of substance abuse impairment, his or her judgment has been so impaired that the person is incapable of appreciating his or her need for such services and of making a rational decision in regard thereto; however, mere refusal to receive such services does not constitute evidence of lack of judgment with respect to his or her need for such services.

Who can initiate a Marchman Act?

A family member, guardian, private practitioner, service provider, or any three adults with knowledge of the individual’s substance abuse may file a petition for a Marchman Act. There are also local attorneys, specializing in the Marchman Act, who can be hired to file the petition and carry out the process. For a minor, only parents, guardians, or service providers may file.

Can a minor be Marchman Acted?

Yes, a parent or legal guardian may initiate a petition for the Marchman Act. It is their responsibility to find the appropriate treatment and make payments for the minor. A law enforcement officer may also Marchman Act a minor.

How do I petition the court?

You must go to the Clerk & Comptroller’s office to complete a petition for assessment and treatment. After, a court case is initiated, a hearing is set within a ten-day period. If the individual is homeless, someone can be hired (at the family’s expense) to locate and serve them. If the person meets eligibility according to the court, an appointment for assessment is set up. There is no fee to petition.

What is an ex-parte petition?

An ex-parte petition appeals that the court enter an order to have an individual involuntarily placed into substance abuse assessment without a hearing. If granted, a judge will order the respondent to be picked up by law enforcement and delivered to a pre-determined treatment facility.

What is the process for filing an ex-parte petition?

You may file at the offices of the Clerk of Court. There is no fee. See filing locations here.

Where does someone go when Marchman Acted?

Marchman Act programs are voluntary and are not under lockdown. See a list of receiving facilities in Palm Beach County here. The family may select a facility, but it must be a licensed provider according to the Department of Children and Families. Here is a list of providers by city.

What happens when someone is Marchman Acted?

Upon evaluation, each client will be provided services suited to his/her needs. The least restrictive form of management is always preferred.

Can I talk to my family member while they are Marchman Acted?

Yes, your family member has the right to communicate with you, but visitation and telephone use may be regulated by the treatment facility.

Can I talk to the mental health professionals treating my loved one while they are Marchman Acted?

Yes, but the treatment providers has no obligation to share information. Because of HIPAA, the patient must sign a release to allow to facility to share any information. However, professionals can accept information even if there is not a release. We suggest that families write up a brief one-page history, including diagnosis and medications, and provide it to the treating staff.

How long does a Marchman Act last?

The initial assessment lasts up to 5 days and further treatment may last up to 60 days. The individual can leave the facility at any time, but the facility will let the court know if this happens and a hearing may be set.

How can a Marchman Act be extended?

Yes, an extension can be filed no more than 10 days before the expiration of the first order, with a hearing within 15 days of filing. The extension can be for as long as 90 days.

What happens if someone walks away from a facility to which they are Marchman Acted?

The individual is in contempt of court and may have to serve jail-time, depending on the judge’s orders. Police may pick up and either return the person to the facility or jail. This typically does not happen automatically, but family members can request this action.



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