Involuntary admission; court determines petitioner is indigent, court shall appoint counsel. (HB267)

Introduced By

Del. Dave Albo (R-Springfield) with support from 9 copatrons, whose average partisan position is:

Those copatrons are Del. Clay Athey (R-Front Royal), Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock), Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge), Del. Joe May (R-Leesburg), Del. Harvey Morgan (R-Gloucester), Del. Beverly Sherwood (R-Winchester), Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson), Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Involuntary commitment; enforcement of compliance with outpatient treatment. Allows the judge or special justice when presiding over a civil commitment hearing to consider testimony from close family members as to the respondent's conduct and treatment history. The bill also allows for civil involuntary outpatient commitment for a person whose past commitment history and psychosis diagnosis indicated that when they are not taking their medicine they meet the involuntary commitment standard. The measure provides for the person to be transferred from inpatient to outpatient treatment upon a petition and a supporting affidavit from a psychologist or psychiatrist and allows a judge or special justice to bring a person back before him for a hearing for material noncompliance with an outpatient treatment order. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/02/2008Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 087834404
01/02/2008Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/10/2008Assigned Courts sub: Mental Health
01/25/2008Reported from Courts of Justice (22-Y 0-N)
01/25/2008Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (22-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/25/2008Referred to Committee on Appropriations
01/28/2008Committee substitute printed 081472404-H1
01/29/2008Assigned App. sub: Health & Human Resources (Hamilton)
02/08/2008Reported from Appropriations (24-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/09/2008Read first time
02/11/2008Read second time
02/11/2008Committee substitute agreed to 081472404-H1
02/11/2008Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB267H1
02/12/2008Read third time and passed House BLOCK VOTE (98-Y 0-N)
02/12/2008VOTE: BLOCK VOTE PASSAGE (98-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/12/2008Communicated to Senate
02/13/2008Constitutional reading dispensed
02/13/2008Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/14/2008Assigned Courts sub: Special on Proposed Mental Health Legislation
02/28/2008Passed by in Courts of Justice with letter (15-Y 0-N)
02/28/2008 Subject matter referred to Commission on Mental Health Law Reform pursuant to Senate Rule 20 (L)


Alison Hymes writes:

So if someone has a dangerous side effect from court ordered medication, they can be arrested if they protect their physical health/life by stopping the drug. And be found in contempt of court. Yup, that's going to decriminalize mental illness in this state for sure.

Family can already testify in hearings. So can anyone else who petitions the court for commitment. Family are not mental health professionals usually, to give their testimony the same weight as MH professionals is absurd and dangerous. It is not true that all families are benign when it comes to their family member with a psychiatric disability.

Rev. L. Willliam Yolton writes:

For purposes of this subsection, "material noncompliance" shall include, but not be limited to, a person's failure to, without good cause, take medication, refusing to take, or failing a blood test, urinalysis, or alcohol or drug test, or not maintaining reasonable contact with outpatient treatment monitors or care providers. Such material noncompliance shall be civil contempt of court.

The problems with “material noncompliance” are myriad. Who is to determine what is “good cause.” Not even the medical community is in agreement. Psychiatrists prescribe Effexor, and heart specialists say it damages the heart. Psychiatrists prescribe anti-psychotics and diabetes specialists say it causes diabetes, neuropathy, and ketoacidosis. The dangerousness of the drugs lead consumers to refuse the medication.

The drugs are not uniform in their effects; they are highly variable according to the individual. Some find Abilify, the new fad, to be helpful. Others say it increases agitation and violent urges.
Others say it puts them in a fog, so they can’t function.

Contempt of court, can lead to jail, where treatment may not be available.

In the rush to avoid harm to oneself or others, we are causing harm!

Cathy writes:

This seems unconstitutional to me. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons...shall not be violated." Also, I think the state needs to get out of granular control of ANY healthcare. This is more than a slippery slope -- it seems to be in direct contradiction to our rights as citizens. Why is the culpability for a failed mental health system resting on someeone who suffers, rather than on those who administer these programs? That is, the government and mental health professionals. We are simply moving culpability down the foodchain because no one higher up wants to take responsibility for overhauling our weak system. How awful.

Alison Hymes writes:

This bill now is about paying for attorneys for petitioners who are found to be indigent. Virginia has money for that and no money for training for special justices? Special justices are currently "trained" by watching a 10 year old video and don't have to have any knowledge of mental health at all. A 26 year old special justice fresh out of law school JAILED a woman for non-compliance with outpatient commitment probably due to a total lack of training. The wide variation in interpretation of the commitment laws across the commonwealth is due to lack of training and lack of continuing education. What is the point of paying for attorneys for petitioners when the person holding the hearing isn't even trained?

Alison Hymes writes:

If the legislature passes this bill after killing the bill to pay for training of special justices over cost, well all I can say is we will know exactly where the legislature stands on due process for people with psychiatric disabilities.