Wisconsin Mental Health Laws

Involuntary Commitment for Mental Health Treatment Lawyers in Milwaukee, Waukesha and SE Wisconsin

The caring and concerned mental health lawyers at Gamiño Law Offices, LLC are skilled at defending the rights of patients facing involuntary commitment for treatment in Milwaukee or Waukesha under Wisconsin's mental health laws and are experienced at filing petitions on behalf of families seeking treatment for their friends or loved ones.  If you or a family member have been detained at a mental health facility or hospital in Milwaukee, Waukesha or anywhere in Wisconsin, or if you need assistance to have someone you care about receive treatment for a dangerous mental illness or disorder, contact Gamiño Law Offices today.
1.  What is an emergency detention and  commitment for involuntary mental health treatment? 
  • Emergency Detention
Wisconsin statutes chapter 51 § 15 authorizes law enforcement or other specifically authorized individuals to take a person into custody and detain him or her at an approved treatment facility if there is probable cause to believe the person is 1) mentally ill, drug dependent, or developmentally disabled; 2) the mental illness is treatable  - in that a symptom(s) of the mental illness can be improved with the use of treatment; and 3) the person is dangerous to themselves or others.  Dangerousness can be alleged based on, among other possibilities, on an actual, threatened, or attempted act of physical harm or violent behavior that could cause serious physical harm to oneself or another person or generally speaking, an inability to care for oneself sufficiently to avoid the likelihood of physical impairment or injury.
  • Involuntary Commitment for Treatment
Wisconsin statutes § 51.20 sets forth the procedure by which a petition may be heard seeking an involuntary commitment for treatment of a mentally ill, drug dependent or developmentally disabled individual.​  Depending on the basis under which it was filed, if a petition for involuntary commitment for treatment is granted it may result in a court order to receive treatment initially for up to 6 months, on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on which is least restrictive of the patient's personal liberty and consistent with their treatment needs.  Generally, commitment orders under Chapter 51 may be extended at the expiration of the commitment term for up to 1 year at time if it can be shown based on a person's treatment history that the person is likely to become dangerous if treatment were withdrawn. 

2.  Who can file a petition for involuntary mental health treatment?
  • Statement of emergency detention for involuntary mental commitment
Petitions for involuntary treatment in Wisconsin are normally started with the filing of a statement of emergency detention filed by police officers; but can also be started by a treatment directors at a psychiatric hospital or facility.  
  • Petition for examination for involuntary mental commitment
Generally, a petition for examination may be filed by 3 adults, at least 1 of whom has personal knowledge ​of the conduct of the individual against whom the petition is filed.  A petition for examination, if it alleges sufficient grounds for involuntary treatment upon review by a court, may result in the court issuing an order to detain the individual and transport them to an approved treatment facility or psychiatric hospital for commitment proceedings.

3.  What rights does a patient have when they have been detained involuntarily for mental health treatment?
An individual who has been detained under chapter 51 involuntary commitment procedures has a right to a copy of the petition and detention order; a written statement of the person's right to an attorney; representation by an attorney; a right to be present a the hearings, to question witnesses, to testify on his or her own behalf, to call witness to assist on his or her behalf; the right to a hearing on probable cause for detention within 72 hours of arrival at the facility; and to a jury trial if requested more than 48 hours before the final hearing.
For a free initial consultation with dedicated attorneys doing their best to help with your involuntary mental health and treatment concerns in Wisconsin, contact Gamiño Law Offices, LLC family law attorneys in Milwaukee or Waukesha, WI. We also have experienced Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers to help with any of your other legal needs.
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