CHAPTER 27. MENTALLY ILL PERSONS.

§27-5-2. Institution of proceedings for involuntary custody for examination; custody; probable cause hearing; examination of individual.

(a) Any adult person may make an application for involuntary hospitalization for examination of an individual when the person making the application has reason to believe that the individual to be examined has a substance use disorder as defined by the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, inclusive of substance use withdrawal, or is mentally ill and, because of his or her substance use disorder or mental illness, the individual is likely to cause serious harm to himself, herself, or to others if allowed to remain at liberty while awaiting an examination and certification by a physician, psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed independent social worker, an advanced nurse practitioner, or physician assistant as provided in subsection (e) of this section: Provided, That a diagnosis of dementia alone may not serve as a basis for involuntary commitment.

Notwithstanding any language in this subsection to the contrary, if the individual to be examined under the provisions of this section is incarcerated in a jail, prison, or other correctional facility, then only the chief administrative officer of the facility holding the individual may file the application, and the application must include the additional statement that the correctional facility itself cannot reasonably provide treatment and other services for the individual’s mental illness or substance use disorder.

(b) The person making the application shall make the application under oath.

(c) Application for involuntary custody for examination may be made to the circuit court, magistrate court, or a mental hygiene commissioner of the county in which the individual resides or of the county in which he or she may be found. A magistrate before whom an application or matter is pending may, upon the availability of a mental hygiene commissioner or circuit court judge for immediate presentation of an application or pending matter, transfer the pending matter or application to the mental hygiene commissioner or circuit court judge for further proceedings unless otherwise ordered by the chief judge of the judicial circuit.

(d) The person making the application shall give information and state facts in the application required by the form provided for this purpose by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

(e) The circuit court, mental hygiene commissioner, or magistrate may enter an order for the individual named in the application to be detained and taken into custody for the purpose of holding a probable cause hearing as provided in §27-5-2(g) of this code for the purpose of an examination of the individual by a physician, psychologist, a licensed professional counselor practicing in compliance with §30-31-1 et seq. of this code, a licensed independent clinical social worker practicing in compliance with §30-30-1 et seq. of this code, an advanced nurse practitioner with psychiatric certification practicing in compliance with §30-7-1 et seq. of this code, a physician’s assistant practicing in compliance with §30-3-1 et seq. of this code, or a physician’s assistant practicing in compliance with §30-3E-1 et seq. of this code: Provided, That a licensed professional counselor, a licensed independent clinical social worker, a physician’s assistant, or an advanced nurse practitioner with psychiatric certification may only perform the examination if he or she has previously been authorized by an order of the circuit court to do so, the order having found that the licensed professional counselor, the licensed independent clinical social worker, physician’s assistant, or advanced nurse practitioner with psychiatric certification has particularized expertise in the areas of mental health and mental hygiene or substance use disorder sufficient to make the determinations required by the provisions of this section. The examination is to be provided or arranged by a community mental health center designated by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to serve the county in which the action takes place. The order is to specify that the hearing be held immediately and is to provide for the appointment of counsel for the individual: Provided, however, That the order may allow the hearing to be held up to 24 hours after the person to be examined is taken into custody rather than immediately if the circuit court of the county in which the person is found has previously entered a standing order which establishes within that jurisdiction a program for placement of persons awaiting a hearing which assures the safety and humane treatment of persons: Provided further, That the time requirements set forth in this subsection only apply to persons who are not in need of medical care for a physical condition or disease for which the need for treatment precludes the ability to comply with the time requirements. During periods of holding and detention authorized by this subsection, upon consent of the individual or in the event of a medical or psychiatric emergency, the individual may receive treatment. The medical provider shall exercise due diligence in determining the individual’s existing medical needs and provide treatment the individual requires, including previously prescribed medications. As used in this section, “psychiatric emergency” means an incident during which an individual loses control and behaves in a manner that poses substantial likelihood of physical harm to himself, herself, or others. Where a physician, psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed independent clinical social worker, physician’s assistant, or advanced nurse practitioner with psychiatric certification has, within the preceding 72 hours, performed the examination required by the provisions of this subsection, the community mental health center may waive the duty to perform or arrange another examination upon approving the previously performed examination. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, §27-5-4(r) of this code applies regarding payment by the county commission for examinations at hearings. If the examination reveals that the individual is not mentally ill or has no substance use disorder, or is determined to be mentally ill or has a substance use disorder but not likely to cause harm to himself, herself, or others, the individual shall be immediately released without the need for a probable cause hearing and the examiner is not civilly liable for the rendering of the opinion absent a finding of professional negligence. The examiner shall immediately provide the mental hygiene commissioner, circuit court, or magistrate before whom the matter is pending the results of the examination on the form provided for this purpose by the Supreme Court of Appeals for entry of an order reflecting the lack of probable cause.

(f) A probable cause hearing is to be held before a magistrate, the mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit judge of the county of which the individual is a resident or where he or she was found. If requested by the individual or his or her counsel, the hearing may be postponed for a period not to exceed 48 hours.

The individual must be present at the hearing and has the right to present evidence, confront all witnesses and other evidence against him or her, and examine testimony offered, including testimony by representatives of the community mental health center serving the area. Expert testimony at the hearing may be taken telephonically or via videoconferencing. The individual has the right to remain silent and to be proceeded against in accordance with the Rules of Evidence of the Supreme Court of Appeals, except as provided in §27-1-12 of this code. At the conclusion of the hearing, the magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit court judge shall find and enter an order stating whether or not it is likely that deterioration will occur without clinically necessary treatment, or there is probable cause to believe that the individual, as a result of mental illness or substance use disorder, is likely to cause serious harm to himself or herself or to others.

(g) Probable cause hearings may occur in the county where a person is hospitalized. The judicial hearing officer may: Use videoconferencing and telephonic technology; permit persons hospitalized for substance use disorder to be involuntarily hospitalized only until detoxification is accomplished; and specify other alternative or modified procedures that are consistent with the purposes and provisions of this article. The alternative or modified procedures shall fully and effectively guarantee to the person who is the subject of the involuntary commitment proceeding and other interested parties due process of the law and access to the least restrictive available treatment needed to prevent serious harm to self or others.

(h) If the magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit court judge at a probable cause hearing or a mental hygiene commissioner or circuit judge at a final commitment hearing held pursuant to the provisions of §27-5-4 of this code finds that the individual, as a result of mental illness or substance use disorder, is likely to cause serious harm to himself, herself, or others and because of mental illness or a substance use disorder requires treatment, the magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit court judge may consider evidence on the question of whether the individual’s circumstances make him or her amenable to outpatient treatment in a nonresidential or nonhospital setting pursuant to a voluntary treatment agreement. At the conclusion of the hearing, the magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit court judge shall find and enter an order stating whether or not it is likely that deterioration will occur without clinically necessary treatment, or there is probable cause to believe that the individual, as a result of mental illness or substance use disorder, is likely to cause serious harm to himself or herself or others. The agreement is to be in writing and approved by the individual, his or her counsel, and the magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit court judge. If the magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit court judge determines that appropriate outpatient treatment is available in a nonresidential or nonhospital setting, the individual may be released to outpatient treatment upon the terms and conditions of the voluntary treatment agreement. The failure of an individual released to outpatient treatment pursuant to a voluntary treatment agreement to comply with the terms of the voluntary treatment agreement constitutes evidence that outpatient treatment is insufficient and, after a hearing before a magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit judge on the issue of whether or not the individual failed or refused to comply with the terms and conditions of the voluntary treatment agreement and whether the individual as a result of mental illness or substance use disorder remains likely to cause serious harm to himself, herself, or others, the entry of an order requiring admission under involuntary hospitalization pursuant to the provisions of §27-5-3 of this code may be entered. Nothing in the provisions of this article regarding release pursuant to a voluntary treatment agreement or convalescent status may be construed as creating a right to receive outpatient mental health services or treatment, or as obligating any person or agency to provide outpatient services or treatment. Time limitations set forth in this article relating to periods of involuntary commitment to a mental health facility for hospitalization do not apply to release pursuant to the terms of a voluntary treatment agreement: Provided, That release pursuant to a voluntary treatment agreement may not be for a period of more than six months if the individual has not been found to be involuntarily committed during the previous two years and for a period of no more than two years if the individual has been involuntarily committed during the preceding two years. If in any proceeding held pursuant to this article the individual objects to the issuance or conditions and terms of an order adopting a voluntary treatment agreement, then the circuit judge, magistrate, or mental hygiene commissioner may not enter an order directing treatment pursuant to a voluntary treatment agreement. If involuntary commitment with release pursuant to a voluntary treatment agreement is ordered, the individual subject to the order may, upon request during the period the order is in effect, have a hearing before a mental hygiene commissioner or circuit judge where the individual may seek to have the order canceled or modified. Nothing in this section affects the appellate and habeas corpus rights of any individual subject to any commitment order.

Notwithstanding anything in this article to the contrary, the commitment of any individual as provided in this article shall be in the least restrictive setting and in an outpatient community-based treatment program to the extent resources and programs are available, unless the clear and convincing evidence of the certifying professional under subsection (e) of this section, who is acting in a manner consistent with the standard of care, establishes that the commitment or treatment of that individual requires an inpatient hospital placement. Outpatient treatment will be based upon a plan jointly prepared by the department and the comprehensive community mental health center or licensed behavioral health provider.

(i) If the certifying professional determines that an individual requires involuntary hospitalization for a substance use disorder which, due to the degree of the disorder, creates a reasonable likelihood that withdrawal or detoxification will cause significant medical complications, the person certifying the individual shall recommend that the individual be closely monitored for possible medical complications. If the magistrate, mental hygiene commissioner, or circuit court judge presiding orders involuntary hospitalization, he or she shall include a recommendation that the individual be closely monitored in the order of commitment.

(j) The Supreme Court of Appeals and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources shall specifically develop and propose a statewide system for evaluation and adjudication of mental hygiene petitions which shall include payment schedules and recommendations regarding funding sources. Additionally, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources shall also immediately seek reciprocal agreements with officials in contiguous states to develop interstate/intergovernmental agreements to provide efficient and efficacious services to out-of-state residents found in West Virginia and who are in need of mental hygiene services.

§27-5-2. Institution of proceedings for involuntary custody for examination; custody; probable cause hearing; examination of individual.

Bill History For §27-5-2

1992 Regular Session
Senate Bill 76
1983 Regular Session
House Bill 1540
1980 Regular Session
Senate Bill 603
1979 Regular Session
Senate Bill 2
1978 Regular Session
Senate Bill 167
1975 Regular Session
House Bill 1316
1974 Regular Session
House Bill 910
1972 Regular Session
House Bill 558