How do I file a petition for an emergency evaluation?
During court hours, go to the nearest district court. (District court phone numbers are listed on the back of this brochure. Some circuit courts will also do this.) In Montgomery, Prince George’s County, or Baltimore City, call a police station to find out which station will accept an emergency petition during non-court hours. Take a list of any medications the person is taking or was prescribed. Take medical records such as hospital admission or discharge reports and diagnoses if readily available. If possible, give one or more locations where the person may be found. Try to give detailed, specific answers to the questions. Attach a page if needed. Concentrate on what is happening now. Add a statement requesting that the evaluee be assisted in bringing his or her medications and some money with him or her to the evaluation. The judge can grant a petition only if “the court finds probable cause to believe that the emergency evaluee has shown the symptoms of a mental disorder and that the individual presents a danger to the life or safety of the individual or of others.” Please be aware that there are criminal and civil penalties for making fraudulent statements in an emergency petition.
What happens when a petition for emergency evaluation is granted?
You may be required to take the petition to the sheriff’s office and be interviewed there. The police or sheriff will find the person in crisis and take the person, often in handcuffs, to the nearest emergency room for evaluation. It is sometimes possible to request a specific hospital. Occasionally there is a long delay before the police or sheriffs arrive. If, during the wait, the situation requires immediate intervention, call 911 and leave the scene if you are at risk.
At the emergency room (ER), the law requires a psychiatric evaluation by two physicians or a physician and a psychologist within six hours. Make every attempt to be there to talk to the doctors. If possible, have the person’s treating doctor/therapist call the ER physician. Find out from the police/sheriff when the petition will be served so that you can go to the ER (preferable) or call the ER. Give the ER physician information that relates to the five criteria for involuntary admission, particularly behavior demonstrating that the person presents a danger, and any history of mental illness. Let the ER physician know if you are unwilling to accept the person back in your home in his or her present condition or if the person is otherwise homeless. Tell the ER physician if the treating physician wants to talk to the person. Give the ER physician information on the patient’s present medications and dosages, as well as recent medication changes, along with the provider phone numbers.
There are three pages that must accompany an emergency petition:
- Emergency Petition: Use this form to petition to have an individual (evaluee) who presents a danger to the life or safety of themselves or others taken to an emergency room by law enforcement for the purpose of examination to determine if they meet the criteria to be admitted to a psychiatric facility.
- Certification by Peace Officer, Physician, or other Qualified Person: If you are a Peace Officer, Physician, or Licensed Therapist who needs to petition an evaluee you saw in the last 24 hours, you must also have the certification form in addition to the Emergency Petition.