Your Legal Rights Under Emergency Commitment

All people have certain basic legal rights, including people with mental illness and people who are in mental health facilities. In some cases, these rights can be restricted by a judge or by your doctor. The following is information you need to know about your rights if you are taken to an inpatient mental health facility on an emergency commitment.

When and Why You Can Be Committed Under Emergency Detention

You can be picked up and detained in two ways:

The decision to detain you on an emergency basis must be based on either personal observation or another person’s reliable observation of your recent behavior that makes them believe that:

Examples of this kind of behavior include attempting to commit suicide, striking another person, or a recent pattern of severe emotional distress.

Where You Must Be Taken

After the peace officer detains you, you must be immediately taken to the nearest appropriate mental health facility for an evaluation. This evaluation will determine whether you can be held longer or whether you must be released. Some facilities may want the peace officer to first take you to an emergency room for a medical clearance evaluation. However, unless you request or require medical attention, you should be taken straight to a mental health facility. You do not have to consent to a medical clearance evaluation.

You must be placed in the nearest appropriate inpatient mental health facility or, in some cases, you may be placed in an alternative approved facility.

After you are detained, you can only be placed in a jail or other non-medical facility in an emergency. If you are placed in a jail or other detention facility, you must be kept separate from people who have been charged with a crime.

After You Have Been Taken To an Inpatient Facility

You have the following rights after you have been taken to an inpatient mental health facility following an emergency detention:

Upon Admission to a Mental Health Facility

Within 24 hours after you have been admitted to the mental health facility, you must be told both orally and in writing in the language you understand best, or if you are hearing or visually impaired, in the way you communicate best, the following:

If you are a minor or if you have a guardian, information about these rights must also be given to your parent or guardian.

If You Think Your Rights May Have Been Violated

If you believe any of these rights may have been violated, you should first contact your treatment team at the facility where you are located. You also have the right to talk to any of the following:


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Last updated: September 30, 2018
Publication Code: IR02

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Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.

The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.