MENTAL HEALTH LAW
Arizona has laws that allow the court to order a person to undergo mental health evaluation involuntarily. These laws are usually referred to as Title 36. The person can be held in a locked mental health facility for evaluation for up to 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays. If the psychiatrists who conduct the mental health evaluations believe that the person has a mental disorder and that the disorder causes the person to be a danger to self, danger to others, persistently or acutely disabled, or gravely disabled, a Petition for Court-Ordered Treatment will usually be filed. The proposed patient has the right to have a lawyer to advise and represent the person. A court hearing on the petition must be set within six days, excluding weekends and holidays, of the filing of the petition, and the proposed patient can be held involuntarily in a locked mental health facility until the hearing unless the court orders otherwise. Only after a court hearing does the court have the authority to order mandatory mental health treatment for the person and only upon clear and convincing evidence that the person is a danger to self, danger to others, persistently or acutely disable, or gravely disabled.
The State has the power to force mental health treatment upon a person, but the person has substantial rights to prevent this from happening for the wrong reasons. In all cases, the person under a petition for mental health evaluation will have an attorney appointed to represent the person in court. But the person also has the right to choose his or her attorney if the person has the financial capacity to pay for private counsel. Phillip Tor at TORLAW has been representing persons, both privately and as court-appointed counsel, petitioned for mental health evaluation and/or court-ordered treatment for the past 15 years. He knows most of the physicians, social workers, staff, lawyers, and judges involved in Title 36 cases from having worked with them over the years. He not only has the training and experience to represent people in Title 36 cases, he also is passionate about protecting the rights of persons under a petition or order for mental health treatment. He has seen petitions filed for the wrong reasons and works vigorously for the prompt release of persons from the hospital. Phillip knows that the Title 36 laws affect the most vulnerable citizens and have a profound effect on a person's right to due process and self-determination.
In some cases, the alleged mentally ill person may be in need of a guardian or conservator or both. An interested person should consider whether a guardianship with mental health decisionmaking powers would be beneficial. Phillip Tor is available for consultation to determine whether guardianship and/or conservatorship is needed. If it is, Phillip can represent the person willing to take on the responsibilities of guardian or conservator.
Phillip Tor is available for consultation and/or private representation of persons under a petition for court-ordered evaluation or petition for court-ordered treatment in Pima County, Arizona. He is also available to help you if you are considering becoming the guardian or consevator of a person you believe needs this level of help and protection. Phillip Tor can be contacted by email from this website or by calling (520) 733-3700.
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