Mental Health Orders

Law enforcement have a very specific involvement when it comes to individuals suffering from the effects of a mental illness. Aside from attempting to de-escalate or negotiate with a person in crisis, law enforcement officers are called upon to execute Emergency Custody Orders and Temporary Detention Orders.

Emergency Custody Orders

Pursuant to Virginia Code §37.2-808, an Emergency Custody Order can be issued when an individual:

  1. Has a mental illness and that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the person will, in the near future
  2. Cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information, if any, or
  3. Suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs
  4. Is in need of hospitalization or treatment, and
  5. Is unwilling to volunteer or incapable of volunteering for hospitalization or treatment.

An Emergency Custody Order directs law enforcement officers to take that person into custody and transport them to a location where they can be evaluated by mental health professionals to assess the need for hospitalization or treatment. The duration of an Emergency Custody Order is eight hours.

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