OMHSAS Clarifies Application of the 120-Hour Involuntary Commitment
The Department of Human Services has become aware that there is confusion regarding timeframes specific to the “Warrant for Emergency Examination” under Section 302 of the Act. The field requires guidance on the length of time a warrant is considered active before the subject of the warrant has been located and the individual has been presented at an evaluation location.
When an individual displays an urgent need for evaluation and treatment due to concerns for the safety of that individual or others, authorization for an Involuntary Evaluation is outlined in the MHPA. The legislature designated a specific timeframe for an individual to be held at an evaluation location to avoid deprivation of liberty without further due process (see In Re Chiumento, 688 A. 2d 217, 221 (Pa Super, 1997)).
The mandated time limit reflects the expectation to honor the constitutional due process requirement of balancing individual liberty interests with the government’s interests in ensuring individual and societal safety.
If you have further questions, please contact RCPA Policy Director Jim Sharp.