By Phone:

Office:  (440) 777-1177

Cell:  (440) 823-4781

Fax:  (440) 398-0561

By e-Mail:

By Mail:
The Law Office of
Stephen W. Wolf, LLC
26777 Lorain Road, Suite 709
North Olmsted, Ohio  44070

Fighting a

Civil Commitment

Due Process

The United States and Ohio Constitutions protect an individual's privacy and freedom.  Because you risk losing both, your rights are protected through due process.

The Civil Rights of Patients (directly from Ohio Revised Code 5122.301)

No person shall be deprived of any public or private employment solely because of having been admitted to a hospital or otherwise receiving services, voluntarily or involuntarily, for a mental illness or other mental disability.

Any person admitted to a hospital or otherwise taken into custody, voluntarily or involuntarily, under this chapter retains all civil rights not specifically denied in the Revised Code or removed by an adjudication of incompetence following a judicial proceeding other than a proceeding under sections 5122.11 to 5122.15 of the Revised Code.

As used in this section, “civil rights” includes, without limitation, the rights to contract, hold a professional, occupational, or motor vehicle driver’s or commercial driver’s license, marry or obtain a divorce, annulment, or dissolution of marriage, make a will, vote, and sue and be sued.

Important Rights

  • You must meet the legal definition of being mentally ill.
  • You have a right to be represented by an attorney - and one will be appointed if you cannot afford an attorney.
  • You have a right to have an independent doctor or psychologist evaluate you and testify on your behalf.
  • You can only be held in the least restrictive environment.
  • You should have input to your care.
  • Only in an emergency can you be forced to take medicine and then only in a hospital.  If you aren't in a hospital, no one can force you to take medicine.

The definition of mental illness (ORC 5122.01)

A mental illness involves a substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life.

To be hospitalized (ORC 5122.01)

A mentally ill person, because of his or her illness:

  • is suicidal (The person represents a serious risk of physical harm to himself as manifest by evidence of threats or attempts at suicide or serious self-inflicted bodily harm.)

  • is a danger to others (The person represents a substantial risk of physical harm to others as manifested by evidence of recent homicidal or other violent behavior, evidence of recent threats that place another in reasonable fear of violent behavior or serious physical harm, or other evidence of present dangerousness.)

  • is unable to care for themselves (The person represents a substantial and immediate risk of serious physical impairment or injury to himself as manifested by evidence that he is unable to provide for and is not providing for his basic physical needs because of his mental illness and that appropriate provision for such needs cannot be made immediately available in the community.)

  • is a risk to the rights of others (The person would benefit from treatment in a hospital for his mental illness and is in need of such treatment as manifested by evidence of behavior that creates a grave and imminent risk to the substantial rights of others or himself.)

Voluntary Status

What is Voluntary Status?

Any adult can voluntarily sign him or herself into a psychiatric hospital.  Also, if you are in the hospital involuntarily, the doctor approves and with the approval of the court, a person can change from an involuntary to a voluntary commitment.  The law, regulations and policy favor a voluntary over an involuntary commitment.  (ORC 5122.02)

Requesting Release from a Hospital - Voluntary Status

If you are in a hospital voluntarily, you can make a written request to leave.  The hospital must advise every patient of their right to ask to be discharged.  You write a three-day letter.  Within three working days (not counting Saturday or Sunday) they have to tell you if they are going to allow you to leave.  If the hospital thinks you must stay, they have to file papers with the probate court in order to change your status to involuntary.  (ORC 5122.03)


Involuntary Status

Only these people can order you into a hospital (ORC 5122.10 and 11):

  • A psychiatrist

  • Licensed physician

  • Health officer

  • Licensed clinical psychologist

  • Parole officer

  • Police officer

  • Sheriff

  • Or if the probate court has issued a warrant of detention based upon a sworn statement made by someone else

Your rights

  • You may request a written statement describing why you were brought to the hospital.  (ORC 5122.10)

  • Your dignity should always be respected

  • The person taking you into custody must identify him or herself, tell you that you are not being arrested, that you are being taken for a medical examination and give you the name of the facility they are taking you.

  • If taken to a general hospital, you must be transferred to a psychiatric hospital within twenty-four hours or be released.  If taken to a psychiatric hospital, you must be examined within twenty-four hours.

  • You must be released if the examiner does not think you are mentally ill and there is no warrant of detention issued by the court.  The hospital must either release you after three days or file a sworn statement with probate court.

  • As soon as arriving at the hospital, you must be both told and provided in writing that (ORC 5122.05):

    • You can make calls to a lawyer, doctor or psychologist for help.  If you need help contacting these people, the staff must help.

    • You have the right to legal counsel.  If you cannot afford counsel, the court will appoint you an attorney.

    • You have the right to an independent expert mental evaluation.  If you want someone who doesn't work at the hospital, you have a right to that evaluation, even if you can't pay for it.

    • You have a right to a hearing to determine if you meet the definition of mentally ill and are an immediate danger to yourself or others.

  • The court may appoint a professional to conduct a medical examination prior to or just after you are taken into custody.  (ORC 5122.14)

  • You will get a notice of your hearing.  The court might advise other interested persons of the hearing. (ORC 5122.12)

  • The mental health board makes an assessment of the request and files a report with the court.  Your attorney will receive a copy of this report prior to the hearing.  (ORC § 5122.13)

From here you have the right to have a number of hearings.  Information regarding hearings for involuntary commitment can be found by click on the hearing button below.

About Involuntary Hearings

Issues During Commitment

Treatment Plan (ORC 5122(V))

A treatment plan must be provided.  You have the right to active participation.  They cannot just have you sign a plan designed without your participation.  This must include:

  • Objectives and goals
  • Specific criteria set out to measure progress
  • Documentation of your active participation
  • It must discuss a plan after discharge, including housing, financial and vocational services


Outside of an emergency, you have the right to refuse medication.  If the hospital wishes to force you to have medication, they must hold a separate hearing.


Back to Commitment                        Obtaining a Commitment