Petition for Involuntary Commitment
If you have reliable information or actual knowledge that a family member or friend is chemically dependent or mentally ill AND you believe they may be a danger to themselves, others, or property, you can complete a Petition for Involuntary Commitment and submit it to the office of the Cass County State’s Attorney.
Please click on the following link for the Petition for Involuntary Commitment. The Petition is a fillable form, however, you will need to print it off and sign it in the presence of a Notary Public or you can print it off and fill it in by hand and sign it in the presence of a Notary Public. For your convenience, the office of the Cass County State’s Attorney can provide a Notary Public, free of charge.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Civil Commitment Process in Cass County
The following general information is intended to help answer the most commonly asked questions about the civil commitment process.
Who can be committed?
As stated above, a person may be committed if they are chemically dependent or mentally ill AND is considered to be a danger to himself, others or property. This includes neglecting one’s own personal care to the point that it threatens the person’s health. A court may also consider a person to be dangerous if the person threatens harm or acts out in a violent manner.
How is a civil commitment accomplished?
In Cass County there are two ways a person can be committed. The first way is by Petition. A person who knows the individual in dire need of help can complete the necessary forms located on-line using the link above or you may come to office of the State’s Attorney and the forms will be provided to you upon request. The person who requests that another person be committed is the “Petitioner”. The person who might be committed is the “Respondent”.
The second is by Emergency Order. This process is available to law enforcement personnel and health care professionals only.
What information is needed?
Information included on the petition for commitment should be as recent as possible. It should provide the specific details that convince you that this person can no longer care for themselves or that convinces you they are dangerous to themselves, others, or property. It should also explain:
- Any history of mental or chemical treatment.
- Specifics on the whereabouts of the Respondent.
- Names of witnesses who can also attest to the Respondent’s behavior.
- Any information you may possess about insurance.
What happens after I turn in a petition?
Once a petition has been completed two things must be determined. First, a copy of the petition is immediately forwarded to the Southeast Human Service Center, or other appropriate agency, for an evaluation to determine whether the Respondent meets the criteria to be committed. The agency’s completed recommendation is sent back to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
The second determination is made by the State’s Attorney’s Office after reviewing the recommendation from the human services agency. This review is to determine whether there is a legal basis to request a judge to order the Respondent committed against the Respondent’s will.
Completing a petition and submitting it to the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office is not a guarantee that the Respondent will be civilly committed.
When would a commitment take place?
A petition is valid for 30 days. The time it takes for the process to be completed can vary widely depending upon the individual circumstances of each case. It is common to have the steps outlined above completed and the Respondent admitted to a treatment facility within five days to two weeks.
Where would the Respondent be sent?
Most often, Respondents are sent to the State Hospital in Jamestown, North Dakota. Within seven days following such a commitment, a court hearing would be set in Cass County in which a judge determines whether there is probable cause to believe the Respondent meets the standards for commitment. Any person who is notified of the time and date of any court proceeding regarding a commitment is expected to appear and testify to the truth of statements the person made in the petition.
Does the Respondent have to be sent to Jamestown?
Not necessarily. Other common facilities for commitment are Prairie St. Johns and Sanford. In some cases, if a respondent has insurance coverage and/or an extensive prior treatment history with another facility in North Dakota, the Respondent can be committed there.
Can they be sent to Fergus Falls or some other Minnesota facility?
NO! North Dakota courts do not have jurisdiction to commit someone into a Minnesota facility, even if the person is a Minnesota resident or has been treated there in the past. North Dakota courts can only commit Respondents to facilities in North Dakota. Petitioners wishing to commit Respondents to facilities in a state other than North Dakota must go through the civil commitment process of that state, or they must convince the Respondent to go there voluntarily.