Having a loved one that persistently keeps abusing drugs or alcohol can be frustrating and dangerous. I saw this first hand in my days as a Drug Court Prosecutor. Often the process of treatment and recovery results in a lack of cooperation that prevents positive results. The recently passed Marchman Act in Florida makes it possible for family members to file a petition with the court in order to have their loved one ordered into a stabilization, evaluation and treatment program. You don't have to wait for your loved one to be injured, perhaps die or land in jail to get them the help they need now. If you or a loved one has been struggling with this issue, I would like to help.
Passed in 1993, the Marchman Act gives the decision making process to you if you have a family member who is dealing with addiction. This law provides for either voluntary or involuntary assessment and stabilization for those who are abusing either drugs or alcohol. This law was created as a civil procedure process that allows either the family or a friend to get a court ordered treatment program in place. This ensures that a person who may be a danger to her/himself or to others can get help. This is a civil action, not a criminal case, and the subject of the Marchman Act petition can keep the entire case confidential while getting the help they need now without risking a felony conviction or criminal record of any kind. The respondent is allowed to hire an attorney or have one appointed to represent them during court proceedings. These attorneys are familiar with the law, and they will likely work primarily to have a petition dismissed for any reason they can. You don't want your case dismissed on a technical legality!
As an attorney that handles Florida Marchman Act cases, I can help ensure that your loved one will get the best care possible in the most expedient manner. Having a lawyer familiar with all of the rules, time limits and requirements of the act will likely increase your chances of a positive result. Keep these facts in mind when deciding on hiring an attorney:
The respondent is allowed to hire an attorney or have one appointed to represent them during court proceedings. These attorneys are familiar with the law, and they will likely work primarily to have a petition dismissed for any reason they can. You don't want your case dismissed on a technical legality!
Failure to comply while filing or enforcing a petition can result in your case being dismissed or reset until the legal procedures have been satisfied. You know that dealing with the needs of an addict requires swift results. I can help ensure that your petition is filed correctly and services are received as soon as possible without any unnecessary delay.
Once a petition is filed, it could take up to ten days before the judge will schedule a hearing on your case. Many times, I am able to streamline the process with the court system to expedite hearings. Substance abuse often involves imminent danger to an individual or to others. A court hearing that is done swiftly can have your loved one in a detox unit within hours or a few days at the longest.
The Marchman Act doesn't take care of all the issues in one hearing. Most people aren't familiar with the additional hearings, pleadings and medical documentation that are required to be filed in a timely manner with the court. There are also significant HIPAA issues regarding the production of medical records. I can help ensure that you aren't wasting time and money with the court system with missed deadlines or inadequate documentation, possibly resulting in a dismissal of your case.
I am experienced in handling these cases through the end, which would be 60 days from the date treatment began or possibly an extension of an additional 90 days if the proper documentation is presented to the court. The Marchman Act relies on civil laws and cooperation of the defendant to ensure treatment is completed. This is often difficult to get from your family member who doesn't want help. I can help make sure they remain in treatment or face the legal consequences of failure to comply. Those consequences include the use of the courts' civil contempt of court power to arrest and jail someone who refuses to comply with court ordered assessment, stabilization and/or treatment.
Although the Marchman Act is a court ordered treatment, one of the things you need to be aware of before we begin the process is the responsibility of payment. Substance abuse services are either handled privately through self-pay, or the individual would utilize a self-funded insurance plan. If no funding is available, then you should be aware that services can be slowed because of the wait for alternative treatments, such as a government funded detox program. All of my clients need to be aware of the importance of understanding this responsibility for treatment cost once a court has ordered treatment, as a delay in seeking services can hinder not only the legal process, but treatment success as well. Many times, the family has health insurance that covers the necessary treatment services but they just can't force their loved one to stay or continue in treatment voluntarily. This is where a lawyer can step in and help.
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