Emergency custody orders, temporary detention orders, and involuntary commitment; criteria. (SB129)

Introduced By

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax) with support from co-patrons Del. David Bulova (D-Fairfax), Del. Chuck Caputo (D-Oak Hill), Del. Vivian Watts (D-Annandale), Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke), and Sen. Patsy Ticer (D-Alexandria)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Involuntary commitment; criteria. Changes the criteria for emergency custody orders, temporary detention orders, and involuntary commitment so that a person may be taken into emergency custody, placed under temporary detention, or involuntarily committed where it is found that (i) the person has a mental illness and (ii) there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of that mental illness, the person will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm or (b) suffer serious harm due to substantial deterioration of his capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs. The bill also changes the criteria for the involuntary commitment of criminal defendants prior to trial, after conviction but before sentencing, and after sentencing to conform with clause (i) and (ii) (a) discussed above. Read the Bill »


01/28/2008: Merged into SB246


01/03/2008Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 087988216
01/03/2008Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/21/2008Assigned Courts sub: Special on Proposed Mental Health Legislation
01/24/2008Impact statement from DPB (SB129)
01/28/2008Incorporated by Courts of Justice (SB246-Howell) (13-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)


R P McMurphy writes:

I strongly oppose this bill. The standard for involuntary commitment should be stringent. The standard for involuntary commitment should be based upon "present reality", and not on "supposed potential". And by the way, the current standard is not as stringent as the proponents of this bill would like one to believe.

Involuntary commitment is indeed a gross violation of one’s basic civil and human rights. As such, there must be gross justification for this gross infringement. This demands “stringent thresholds”. The nanny state mindset of "Better safe than sorry." is unconscionable and must be replaced with "beyond all reasonable doubt". Indeed, I am appalled at the nonchalant and cavalier attitude toward locking people up that is typically displayed by the employees of the state mental health system.

It is particularly reprehensible that the evaluation of this standard is based entirely upon the opinions of practitioners of an entirely subjective and ambiguous pseudoscience whose inherently high potential for misdiagnosis's is not even given lip service by these practitioners. Psychiatry has no objective verifiable or repeatable "standards". "Diagnosis's" are completely dependent upon subjective and open to interpretation clinical interviews. In a forced setting, these "clinical interviews" are obviously in a stressful and adversarial setting. This is hardly what one would call a productive doctor - patient relationship, especially for a so called profession supposedly built upon listening and trust building. Yet this potential for misdiagnosis and misunderstanding is absolutely missing from these psychiatrists's train of thoughts. People "diagnosed" with mental illness are automatically and infallibly assumed to have the said mental illness. I charge the power the state gives to these people only reinforces their overbearing Chicken Little mentalities.

This bill is further flawed in that it gives NO protections for those who will fall under these loosened standards. Where is the concern for the many more that will be misdiagnosed and forced into unwarranted treatment? Where is the concern toward the many more that will be abused by the State Mental Health System by these loosened standards?

Hard to believe this is really America. Hard to believe this state was a birthplace for liberty and individual rights.