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Mental Health Commitments


The County prosecuting attorney, in some circumstances, will file to have residents of the county involuntarily committed to a state hospital for treatment of a mental disease or defect that causes them to be dangerous to themselves or others. This is done using the procedures set forth in Title 66, Chapter 3 of the Idaho Code.

In order for the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office to commence commitment proceedings against an individual, Idaho Code Section 66-328 requires:

  1. The proposed patient must be a resident of Nez Perce County; OR
  2. If the patient is NOT a Nez Perce County resident, the prosecutor’s office MUST have confirmation from the resident county that they will pay the expenses for the commitment – including such additional filing and hearing costs, and such reasonable medical and attorney fees or other fees as may be fixed by law or by our Court.
  3. Further commitment proceedings cannot occur if residence cannot be established and/or payment agreed to by the resident county.

Overview of the Mental Health Commitment Process


Initiation of Proceedings and Who Initiates those Proceedings:

Department of Health and Welfare, Mental Health Division, initiates commitment proceedings, pursuant to Idaho Code Section 66-329:
Mental Health Services will contact the Prosecutor’s Office when they have a patient they believe needs commitment proceedings started pursuant to the guidelines set forth in Idaho Code Section 66-329.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC):
A patient who voluntarily admits himself/herself to the Mental Health Unit at SJRMC may request to be released. However, if the doctor(s) feel the patient needs further treatment before being released, the hospital can place a 72-hour hold on patients [pursuant to Idaho Code Section 66-320(3)], and the Prosecutor’s Office becomes involved with the proceedings at that point.

Officer’s Petition and Temporary Custody Order, pursuant to Idaho Code Section 66-326:
If a law enforcement officer has reason to believe that an individual is gravely disabled due to mental illness or the person’s continued liberty poses an imminent danger to himself or others, he can place the individual on a protective hold pursuant to the provisions contained in Idaho Code Section 66-326.

The hospital shall hold the individual on the Officer’s Petition until a Judge is located to sign a Temporary Custody Order. There is a 24-hour period where detention is allowed without a court order.

Mental Health initiates a Rehospitalization of a Previously Committed Patient pursuant to Idaho Code Section 66-339:
In this situation, the proposed patient has left State Hospital North (or any other inpatient treatment facility) on a Conditional Release. That patient has not complied with the Conditional Release and must be readmitted and must be recommitted pursuant to the provisions of Idaho Code Section 66-329.

Initial Examination and Filing of Petition

Immediately after placing the proposed patient in protective custody, the judge must determine whether or not the individual is gravely disabled due to mental illness or imminently dangerous. If the judge makes such a finding, he is required to issue a temporary custody order requiring the person to be held in a facility and requiring an examination of the person by a designated examiner within twenty-four (24) hours (excluding holidays and weekends) of the entry of the order. The examiner is required to submit their findings to the judge within twenty-four (24) hours (excluding holidays and weekends). If the examiner finds the person is mentally ill, and either is likely to injure themselves or others or is gravely disabled due to mental illness, the prosecuting attorney is required to file a petition with the court, within twenty-four (24) hours (excluding holidays and weekends), requesting the patient's detention pending commitment proceedings. Upon receipt of the petition, the court must set a hearing to be held within five (5) days.

Appointment of an Attorney

The proposed patient will usually have an attorney appointed, at county expense, to represent them, unless other arrangements are made to have privately retained counsel represent him/her.

Appointment of Second Designated Examiner

Within forty-eight (48) hours (excluding holidays and weekends) of the filing of a petition, the judge will appoint a second designated examiner to make a personal examination of the individual. The examiner must file their report with the court within seventy-two (72) hours (excluding holidays and weekends). If the designated examiner finds the person is mentally ill, and either is likely to injure themselves or others or is gravely disabled due to mental illness, the judge will enter an order authorizing the individual to be taken to a facility in the community in which the proposed patient is residing or to the nearest facility to await an adjudicatory hearing.

Adjudicatory Hearing

The judge must set an adjudicatory hearing within seven (7) days of the receipt of the second designated examiners report. This can be extended to fourteen (14) days upon request of the patient and the patient's attorney.

The adjudicatory hearing is a trial where the issues are decided by the presiding judge. The judge can commit the person to the custody of the Department of Health and Welfare if the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is both mentally ill and is likely to injure themselves or others or is gravely disabled due to the mental illness.

Term of Custody

The judge will then designate an amount of time, up to one year, that the individual may be committed to the custody of the Department of Health and Welfare. If the patient is well enough to be discharged from custody, the hospital/facility will file a Notice of Release or a Notice of Conditional Release with the court. In other cases, the prosecution may be required to ask the court for an additional hearing at a later date to request that the judge enter a new order for purposes of extending the commitment.

Review by the Department

The Department is required to conduct an examination at least at the end of the first ninety (90) days and every one hundred twenty (120) days thereafter. A report of each of these reviews is required to be forwarded to the presiding judge, the prosecutor, and the patient's attorney.


In order to view the text of the statute which contain the provisions relating to mental illness, see Idaho Code Title 66, Chapter 3.



Justin Coleman

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