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Involuntary Hearings

 during a

Civil Commitment



Types of Hearings

The Initial Hearing  (ORC 5122.141)

The initial hearing may be waived.  A waiver of the initial hearing can often be a good idea.  If the initial hearing is waived and the patient is released prior to the next hearing, before the full hearing, the record in the probate court is expunged.  You must agree to the waiver.  Your attorney must agree that the waiver is properly made and in your best interests.  It often is.

The hearing should be held prior to the commitment.  This is rarely done.

The purpose of the initial hearing is to determine if you are a mentally ill person subject to hospitalization.  It is to be held within five days of the filing of the affidavit or your being detained, whichever is earlier.

You, your attorney, the court or the chief medical officer can ask for up to a ten day continuance (including holidays and weekends).  The request must show a good reason for the continuance.

If the hearing is not held, you must be released.

The Full Hearing (ORC 5122.15)

The full hearing must be held within thirty days of your commitment.  If it is not held, you must be released.

Commitment longer than ninety days (ORC 5122.15(H)

Ten days prior to your ninetieth day of detention a hearing must be scheduled or you must be released.  The hearing must occur within ninety days and then again on each multiple of ninety days.

Forced Medication

Outside of an emergency, you have the right to refuse medication.  If the hospital wishes to force you to have medication, they must hold a separate hearing.


About the Hearing

The Civil Rights of Patients (directly from ORC 5122.301)

No person shall be deprived of any public or private employment solely because of having been admitted to a hospital or otherwise receiving services, voluntarily or involuntarily, for a mental illness or other mental disability.

Any person admitted to a hospital or otherwise taken into custody, voluntarily or involuntarily, under this chapter retains all civil rights not specifically denied in the Revised Code or removed by an adjudication of incompetence following a judicial proceeding other than a proceeding under sections 5122.11 to 5122.15 of the Revised Code.

As used in this section, “civil rights” includes, without limitation, the rights to contract, hold a professional, occupational, or motor vehicle driver’s or commercial driver’s license, marry or obtain a divorce, annulment, or dissolution of marriage, make a will, vote, and sue and be sued.

Your hearing rights

  • You may attend
  • You have the right to an independent mental evaluation
  • The hearing must be conducted by a judge or referee who is an attorney
  • You have a right to an attorney and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed
  • Your attorney will have access to all information about your case
  • You can call witnesses
  • You can talk, under oath, or can refuse to talk
  • You can have a written record of the hearing, even if you can't afford it

The court considers

  • diagnosis
  • prognosis
  • your input
  • a treatment plan
  • the least restrictive alternative

The court may

  • release you
  • commit you to a mental health board or agency chosen by that board
  • a private hospital
  • a Veteran's Administration hospital
  • a private psychiatrist or psychologist
  • any other suitable setting
  • the court may bypass the mental health board if you area a person who is
    • found incompetent to stand trial
    • found not guilty by reason of insanity
    • in prison
    • a juvenile

Appealing the referee's decision

Within fourteen days you can file a written appeal.  Ten days after a probate judge receives your appeal he or she must rule on your objections.  (ORC 5122.15(J))

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