First and foremost, know that your friend or relative has all constitutional rights despite having been involuntarily committed. This right is assured by the Baker Act law, Florida Statute394.459 Rights of patients.
The law states: RIGHT TO INDIVIDUAL DIGNITY. A person who is receiving treatment for mental illness shall not be deprived of any constitutional rights.
The circumstances just prior to the person being taken to the psychiatric facility, largely determine if he or she met the criteria or were perceived to have met the criteria. An experienced Mental Health Rights Advocate or a Baker Act attorney can help you to sort that out. Each year, the state publishes an annual report in regards to how many Baker Acts there were, statewide, during the year. Startling as it may be, there were over 170,000, per the most recent annual report. That leaves a lot of people wondering what their rights are if their child, husband, daughter, friend, mother, father, sister or brother was Baker Acted. Family members have rights as well as the individual who is being examined.
Those rights include the right to visit their loved one during visiting hours. Visiting hours vary per facility and it may be one of the first things you want to find out so that you can ensure your right to see your loved one as soon as possible. The rights of the patient are, by law, supposed to be posted in a visible place within the facility and you can mention that to the person being held. They can get familiar with what options they have at the point they are admitted.
Additionally, you have the right to communicate with your friend or family member, at “reasonable times”. Again, this varies according to policies at each individual facility and you may want to find out when it is you can speak to your loved one over the phone.
You have the right to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus on behalf of the individual being held and that gets filed in the courthouse of the county where the facility is. The Writ is a formal request to find out why the person is being detained. You, also, have the right to help your friend or family member to report any violations of rights and privileges of the patient.
The law states:
VIOLATIONS.—The department shall report to the Agency for Health Care Administration any violation of the rights or privileges of patients, or of any procedures provided under this part, by any facility or professional licensed or regulated by the agency.
POSTING OF NOTICE OF RIGHTS OF PATIENTS.—Each facility shall post a notice listing and describing, in the language and terminology that the persons to whom the notice is addressed can understand, the rights provided in this section. This notice shall include a statement that provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act apply and the name and telephone number of a person to contact for further information. This notice shall be posted in a place readily accessible to patients and in a format easily seen by patients. This notice shall include the telephone numbers of the Florida local advocacy council and Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc.