Mental Hygiene Process: Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated On: 4/23/2015 7:34:49 PM

Who can apply to have a person involuntarily hospitalized?

An adult person can make an application for an involuntary hospitalization of another person if they believe one is addicted to a controlled substance and/or is mentally ill AND likely to harm oneself or others.

What happens after someone applies for a person to be involuntarily committed?

If someone applies for a person to be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, the court may detain this person for a probable cause hearing to be held within 24 hours and it is likely that a mental health examination is ordered. The court will appoint this person legal counsel.

What happens at a probable cause hearing?

West Virginia law requires that the person be present at the probable cause hearing. A Mental Health Commissioner (an attorney who has been appointed by a judge) will preside over the case. The person has the right to confront witnesses and testimonies presented against them and to present evidence and witnesses of their own, or remain silent.

How is it decided whether to involuntarily hospitalize someone?

If the court determines that there is probable cause, a person can be admitted to a mental health facility and an examination must take place within 5 days. If the examining physician determines that the person is a threat to themselves or others, a final commitment hearing must be instituted within 15 days.

What happens at the final commitment hearing?

A person can only be committed involuntarily to a mental health facility when a valid physician or psychologist expresses judgment that they are either addicted to a controlled substance or mentally ill AND likely to cause harm to themselves or others. The court may dismiss the case, commit a person to a responsible person, admit them to a treatment facility or order release pursuant to obtaining agreed upon treatment.

How can a person be released from a mental health facility after being involuntarily committed?

West Virginia case law details that justification for commitment will end when the person is found to no longer be a threat to harm themselves or others. A person’s mental illness does not have to be cured for them to be released; however one must show that they are no longer posing a threat of danger to themselves or others.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.