Emergency Involuntary Commitment to a Mental Health Facility in Illinois

Emergency Involuntary Commitment to a Mental Health Facility in Illinois

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
September 3, 2019

In this article, we explain the process for emergency involuntary commitment to a mental health facility in Illinois. 

Emergency involuntary commitment is a process whereby mentally ill individual may be temporarily admitted to a mental health facility against his or her will in order to prevent imminent danger to himself or herself or others.

How to Admit Someone to a Mental Health Facility Against Their Will in Illinois

If an individual’s mental condition poses an immediate risk of harm, anyone over the age of 18 can file a petition for immediate hospitalization of that individual in the circuit court located in the county in which the individual resides.

The petition must describe the respondent’s mental illness as well as any actions that the respondent has taken that indicate that the respondent’s mental illness would place the respondent or others in imminent physical harm were he or she not admitted to a mental health facility.  The petition must be accompanied by certificates from two clinicians that have examined the respondent (more on this below).

How to Prepare a Petition to Involuntarily Commit to a Mental Health Facility

The petition must also include the names and addresses of the following individuals:

  • The respondent’s family members;
  • The respondent’s guardian, if one exists;
  • Anyone with substitute decision-making authority over the respondent;
  • Any witnesses to the facts alleged in the petition (phone numbers for the witnesses must be included as well); and
  • The names, badge numbers, and employing entity of any police officers that assisted in transporting the respondent to the mental health facility.

The petitioner must disclose the following information in the petition:

  • His or her relationship to the respondendent; 
  • Any legal or financial interest with respect to the respondent; and
  • Any litigation between the petitioner and the respondent.

If the petitioner does not have any relationship or legal or financial interest with respect to the respondent, he or she must explain in the petition why it is not possible for the petition to be filed by someone else who has such interests.

Once the petition is filed with the court, the petitioner can deliver it either to the County Sheriff or the Illinois Department of Human Services, depending on the county.  The sheriff will then take the disabled adult into custody and transport him or her to a mental health facility.  The disabled adult is responsible for payment of transportation costs.

Rights of a Disabled Adult Who Has Been Involuntarily Committed to a Mental Health Facility

Within 12 hours of the disabled adult being admitted into a mental health facility, he or she must be served with a copy of the petition along with a statement of rights.  The petition must be sent to the disabled adult’s attorney and guardian within 24 hours of admission.  The disabled adult has the right to make two phone calls.

Clinician Certificates for Involuntary Commitment to a Mental Health Facility

In order for a disabled adult to be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, he or she must be examined by two clinicians, who must sign certificates stating that it is appropriate to involuntarily commit the disabled adult.

The first certificate must be completed by a physician, psychiatrist, qualified examiner, or clinical psychologist within 72 hours prior to commitment and included with the petition.  The second certificate must be completed by a psychiatrist within 24 hours of the disabled adult’s admission to the facility. If the second certificate is not completed within 24 hours of commitment, the mental health facility is required to release the disabled adult.

A disabled adult may be detained without obtaining a prior clinician’s certificate if the petitioner believes, based on personal observation, that the disabled adult meets the criteria for involuntary admission and a diligent effort was made to obtain an examination.

What Happens After a Petition for Involuntary Commitment is Filed?

If the petition has not been filed prior to the disabled adult’s admission to the mental health facility, it must be filed within 24 hours of admission, excluding holidays and weekends.  The second certificate must be filed promptly after it is obtained.  The court must schedule a hearing within five business days of receiving the petition and first certificate.

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