Ventura 5250 Hearings Attorneys
Mental Health Advocates Working for You
Law enforcement officers can make mistakes, especially when they encounter someone with a mental illness that includes symptoms they are not familiar with. In the state of California, both law enforcement and mental health professionals have the legal ability to place an individual in custody if they believe their mental condition could likely result in them harming themselves or others. The formal name for this type of custody is a “5150 hold.”
If you are held past a certain length of time because a treatment facility believes continued detainment is necessary, you are placed in a “5250 hold.” These holds can last for up to 14 days, but doctors have the ability to request temporary conservatorships to hold you even longer.
It can be easy to feel helpless and isolated, especially when you have been unexpectedly detained and separated from your loved ones with little to no warning. It is critical to understand that you have rights when held in a 5250 hold. There are paths to release if you know how and when to exercise those rights. Our Ventura 5250 hearings lawyers at Lessem, Newtat & Tooson, LLP have successfully negotiated the expedient release of numerous Californians battling mental illnesses. We emphasize mental health advocacy in our practice and are empathetic to the stressful challenges you and your loved ones face when involuntarily detained.
How 5250 Hearings Work
When law enforcement is unable to immediately communicate with a person that they assume to be potentially dangerous, they will often instinctually place the individual in a 5150 hold, even if the person in actuality poses no threat to anyone.. Law enforcement often does not have sufficient training to understand the symptoms of various common mental health conditions, leading to misunderstandings that can quickly escalate.
An individual in a 5150 hold does not have to have been suspected committing a crime or be in the process of committing one to be detained. Many 5150 holds result from confused or concerned neighbors or bystanders who call the police after encountering a mentally ill individual exhibiting symptoms they have not seen before.
Law enforcement is permitted to hold an individual in a 5150 hold for up to 72 hours. They will in most cases be sent to a nearby treatment facility, where they will be involuntarily detained and evaluated by healthcare professionals. Understand that in most circumstances, a person will not be able to leave the treatment facility on your accord, even if their symptoms subside. The medical team at the site might permit a release, but it is by no means a guarantee.
Being abruptly detained can be scary for an individual’s loved ones, who are likely aware of their mental illness and will be struggling to locate them. Though they might be able to determine the detainee whereabouts by contacting their local police station, they may be denied access to the site where they are being held. At this point, loved ones of a detainee should immediately contact qualified legal representation to begin negotiating release.
Once the 72-hour maximum of the 5150 hold has been exhausted, the treatment facility will decide if the detainee should be held for a longer period. They can make this decision without consulting the impacted person.
When an individual is held longer than 72 hours, they are now being detained under what is called a 5250 hold. A 5250 hold can last for a maximum of 14 days.
Healthcare professionals will certify a 5250 hold if they believe the detainee continues to be potentially harmful to themselves or others, or if they are unable to provide for themselves as a result of a mental disability. Unfortunately, medical teams can sometimes be unfamiliar with certain types of symptoms or be unable to sufficiently communicate with detainees. This can lead to situations where persons are held in extended involuntary detention on unjustifiable grounds.
Your Rights If Detained in a 5250 Hold
Unfortunately, you have very limited rights during the initial 72 hours of a 5150 hold. Hopefully, you can work with your attending healthcare professionals to convince them you do not pose a threat to yourself or anyone else. They may choose to release you at any point.
Should you be detained for longer than 72 hours and placed in a 5250 hold, you become entitled to certain rights. The treatment facility is legally required to give you a written notice that explains the justifications for your continued detention. They are also required to give you access to a patients’ rights advocate who will explain what happens next and steps you can take. You will likely have to request both of these entitlements. The treatment facility may not automatically provide them to you.
It is important to understand that, unlike a traditional criminal proceeding, you are not entitled to a public defender. You are allowed to retain legal representation, but a lawyer will not be appointed for you.
Your most important right in a 5250 hold is the 5250 hearing. As soon as you learn you are being held for longer than 72 hours, you may request a Certification Review Hearing. The hearing gives you and your lawyer an opportunity to argue why continued involuntary detention is not necessary.
If you pose no threat to yourself or those around you, it can be frustrating and stressful to be placed in a 5150 or 5250 hold. This is especially true when the healthcare team treating you refuses to listen to your insistence that you are mentally competent and not dangerous.
Learning you may be held for an even greater length of time, likely as a result of an overabundance of caution or a misunderstanding, will likely seem acceptable. You have a life beyond your mental illness, including loved ones you have been separated from and likely a job that is now being jeopardized by continued detainment. A 5250 hearing gives you an opportunity to obtain swift release, and you should have someone familiar with the law on your side.
5250 hearings are fairly informal proceedings and must take place within 4 days of certification. A neutral party will evaluate the evidence, including arguments made by your legal representation and the medical staff treating you, and determine if there is sufficient reason to continue holding you against your will. Should the neutral party decide you should not be held, the treatment facility is required to release you immediately.
Your success in a 5250 hearing could depend on the strength of your lawyer’s preparation, skill, and experience in handling these types of cases. Our Ventura 5250 hearings attorneys utilize our deep understanding of the relevant laws to effectively argue that clients do not pose threats to themselves or others and thus cannot continue to be detained.
Our goal is to always help individuals struggling with mental illness avoid continued unnecessary detainment. When you hire us, we will do whatever it takes to make sure your rights are honored and fight to get you released as expeditiously as possible. Our Ventura 5250 hearings lawyers at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP have been advocating for Californians for decades and are familiar with all areas of mental health law. Because we are empathetic to the urgency in situations involving involuntary detention, our legal team is available for attentive 24/7 counseling.
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