Here’s a Brief Overview of an Involuntary Civil Commitment Process

HNWMental Health and NJ Law Regarding Involuntary Commitments

involuntary commitmentWhen a patient presents to a psychiatric screening service, the service has 24 hours to issue a screening certificate to the patient being detained when the purpose of the screening involves an involuntary commitment. N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.5.  For involuntary held patients, the facility has “72 hours from the time a screening certificate is executed” to either release the patient or “initiate” a request for a court order to involuntarily hold the individual.  (R. 4:74-7(b)(1); N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.9(c).  In seeking a court order, the facility must submit, “a clinical certificate completed by a psychiatrist on the patient’s treatment team or an electronically scanned clinical certificate in lieu of the original certificate.” N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.10(a)(1).

The above cited statute reads as follows:

“the process in place allows a facility to hold an individual for twenty-four hours while a screening service ‘provid[es] . . . treatment and conduct[s] [an] assessment.”  N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.5(a).  If – after performing an examination – a psychiatrist finds a need for involuntary commitment, a screening certificate must be completed.  N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.5(b).  The facility may then ‘detain’ the individual ‘involuntarily by referral from a screening service without a temporary court order,’ but ‘for no more than 72 hours from the time the screening certificate is executed.’  N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.9(c).   Accord N.J.A.C. 10:31.2-3(g); R. 4:74-7(b)(1).  During that seventy-two hour period, the facility must initiate involuntary committal court proceedings.  N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.9(c).”

Although the statute does not impose a specific time for the court to decide whether to hold or release the patient, the statute does say that the court must proceed “immediately.”  N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.10(f).  The fact that liberty is at stake warrants a summary consideration subject to a full hearing within twenty days.  N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.12(a).

If you are looking for additional details on this topic or if you require advice about your situation, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at  Please ask us about our video conferencing or telephone consultations if you are unable to come to our office.

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Mental Health Law Attorney

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