53-24-302. Involuntary commitment of alcoholics -- rights. (1) A person may be committed to the custody of the department by the district court upon the petition of the person's spouse or guardian, a relative, the certifying physician, or the chief of any approved public treatment facility. The petition must allege that the person is an alcoholic who habitually lacks self-control as to the use of alcoholic beverages and that the person has threatened, attempted, or inflicted physical harm on another and that unless committed is likely to inflict physical harm on another or is incapacitated by alcohol. A refusal to undergo treatment does not constitute evidence of lack of judgment as to the need for treatment. The petition must be accompanied by a certificate of a licensed physician who has examined the person within 2 days before submission of the petition unless the person whose commitment is sought has refused to submit to a medical examination, in which case the fact of refusal must be alleged in the petition. The certificate must set forth the physician's findings in support of the allegations of the petition. A physician employed by the admitting facility or the department is not eligible to be the certifying physician.
(2) Upon filing the petition, the court shall fix a date for a hearing no later than 10 days after the date the petition was filed. A copy of the petition and of the notice of the hearing, including the date fixed by the court, must be served on the petitioner, the person whose commitment is sought, the person's next of kin other than the petitioner, a parent or the person's legal guardian if the person is a minor, the administrator in charge of the approved public treatment facility to which the person has been committed for emergency care, and any other person the court believes advisable. A copy of the petition and certificate must be delivered to each person notified.
(3) At the hearing, the court shall hear all relevant testimony, including, if possible, the testimony of at least one licensed physician who has examined the person whose commitment is sought. The person has a right to have a licensed physician of the person's own choosing conduct an examination and testify on the person's behalf. If the person has no funds with which to pay the physician, the reasonable costs of one examination and testimony must be paid by the county. The person must be present unless the court believes that the person's presence is likely to be injurious to the person. The court shall examine the person in open court or, if advisable, shall examine the person in chambers. If the person refuses an examination by a licensed physician and there is sufficient evidence to believe that the allegations of the petition are true or if the court believes that more medical evidence is necessary, the court may make a temporary order committing the person to the department for a period of not more than 5 days for purposes of a diagnostic examination.
(4) If after hearing all relevant evidence, including the results of any diagnostic examination by the department, the court finds that grounds for involuntary commitment have been established by clear and convincing evidence, it shall make an order of commitment to the department. The court may not order commitment of a person unless it determines that the department is able to provide adequate and appropriate treatment for the person and that the treatment is likely to be beneficial.
(5) A person committed under this section must remain in the custody of the department for treatment for a period of 40 days unless sooner discharged. At the end of the 40-day period, the person must automatically be discharged unless before expiration of the period the department obtains a court order from the district court of the committing district for the person's recommitment upon the grounds set forth in subsection (1) for a further period of 90 days unless sooner discharged. If a person has been committed because the person is an alcoholic likely to inflict physical harm on another, the department shall apply for recommitment if after examination it is determined that the likelihood still exists.
(6) A person recommitted under subsection (5) who has not been discharged by the department before the end of the 90-day period must be discharged at the expiration of that period unless before expiration of the period the department obtains a court order from the district court of the committing district on the grounds set forth in subsection (1) for recommitment for a further period not to exceed 90 days. If a person has been committed because the person is an alcoholic likely to inflict physical harm on another, the department shall apply for recommitment if after examination it is determined that the likelihood still exists. Only two recommitment orders under subsections (5) and (6) are permitted.
(7) Upon the filing of a petition for recommitment under subsection (5) or (6), the court shall fix a date for hearing no later than 10 days after the date the petition was filed. A copy of the petition and of the notice of hearing, including the date fixed by the court, must be served on the petitioner, the person whose commitment is sought, the person's next of kin other than the petitioner, the original petitioner under subsection (1) if different from the petitioner for recommitment, one of the person's parents or the person's legal guardian if the person is a minor, and any other person the court believes advisable. At the hearing, the court shall proceed as provided in subsection (3).
(8) A person committed to the custody of the department for treatment must be discharged at any time before the end of the period for which the person has been committed if either of the following conditions is met:
(a) in case of an alcoholic committed on the grounds of likelihood of infliction of physical harm upon another, that the person is no longer in need of treatment or the likelihood no longer exists; or
(b) in case of an alcoholic committed on the grounds of incapacity and the need of treatment, that the incapacity no longer exists, further treatment will not be likely to bring about significant improvement in the person's condition, or treatment is no longer adequate or appropriate.
(9) The court shall inform the person whose commitment or recommitment is sought of the person's right to contest the application, be represented by counsel at every stage of any proceedings relating to the person's commitment and recommitment, and have assigned counsel pursuant to the Montana Public Defender Act, Title 47, chapter 1, if the person wants the assistance of counsel and is unable to obtain private counsel. If the court believes that the person needs the assistance of counsel, the court shall order the office of state public defender, provided for in 47-1-201, to assign counsel for the person regardless of the person's wishes. The person whose commitment or recommitment is sought must be informed of the right to be examined by a licensed physician of the person's choice. If the person is unable to obtain a licensed physician and requests examination by a physician, the court shall employ a licensed physician.
(10) If a private treatment facility agrees with the request of a competent patient or the patient's parent, sibling, adult child, or guardian to accept the patient for treatment, the department may transfer the patient to the private treatment facility.
(11) A person committed under this section may at any time seek to be discharged from commitment by writ of habeas corpus or other appropriate means.
(12) The venue for proceedings under this section is the place in which the person to be committed resides or is present.
History: En. 69-6221 by Sec. 11, Ch. 302, L. 1974; Sec. 69-6221, R.C.M. 1947; redes. 80-2718 by Sec. 6, Ch. 280, L. 1975; R.C.M. 1947, 80-2718; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 133, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 61, Ch. 18, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 60, Ch. 449, L. 2005.