Can You Be Involuntarily Committed in Wisconsin?

By Carlos Gamino. Click here for audio version.

If you’re like many people, you’re not sure whether you can be involuntarily committed in the state of Wisconsin – or what happens when a court orders you to seek treatment that you don’t want. This guide explains.

Can You Be Involuntarily Committed in Wisconsin?

In some cases, you can be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility or treatment facility in Wisconsin. That means that the state or county can order you to the care and custody of one of these entities or facilities, even without your consent.

Under Wisconsin law, the courts can require involuntary treatment for someone who’s considered dangerous, treatable, and is:

  • Mentally ill
  • Drug-dependent
  • Developmentally disabled

What Does “Dangerous” Mean When it Comes to Involuntary Commitment?

In order for the court to order you to receive involuntary treatment, you must be considered dangerous. However, dangerous doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to go out and harm other people. In fact, the law says you can be considered dangerous because you are (or seem to be) likely to:

  • Harm yourself
  • Harm others
  • Injure yourself or others due to impaired judgment
  • Be unable to care for yourself by satisfying your basic needs for nourishment, medical care, shelter or safety
  • Remain drug dependent or refuse medication or treatment that you need

How Can Someone Have You Involuntarily Committed in Wisconsin?

There are three ways an individual or the state can initiate involuntary commitment proceedings:

  1. A statement of emergency detention by a law enforcement officer. In this case, an officer can take you into custody if they believe you’re mentally ill, drug dependent or developmentally disabled and taking you into custody is the least restrictive alternative for your needs. Additionally, the officer must show that you made a recent threat or attempt at suicide, a threat or attempt to harm others, there’s a serious probability of you harming yourself or others due to your impaired judgment, or there’s a serious probability that you’ll die or become seriously injured because you can’t feed yourself, seek medical care, or find shelter or safety.
  2. A statement of emergency detention by a treatment director. If you’ve been voluntarily admitted to one of several treatment facilities, the treatment director can sign this statement to detain, evaluate, diagnose and treat you if you meet the same conditions that you’d meet for a law enforcement officer to take you into custody.
  3. A three-party petition process. Three adults – at least one of whom knows you personally – must submit a petition for an examination.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Involuntary Commitment?

If you need to speak with an attorney about commitment in a mental health facility or treatment facility, we may be able to help you and give you the legal advice you need. Call our office today at 414-383-6700 to schedule your free consultation. We’ll work hard to get you the best possible outcome.

Attorney Carlos Gamino