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Mental Health Law Takes Center Stage with Amanda Bynes Hospitalized
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Amanda Bynes looking healthy, dogwalking with her parents

Summary: With Amanda Bynes now in the hospital for psychiatric reasons, the discussion surrounding mental health law has re-surfaced across the country.

A spotlight has been placed on the civil-commitment laws in California following the involuntary psychiatric hospitalization of actress Amanda Bynes, according to The Wall Street Journal.


Bynes was admitted to a hospital in Los Angeles on Friday. She was involuntarily put into care hours following multiple tweets were posted to Twitter on her account. One of those tweets referenced a ‘microchip’ in her head that forced her to make false statements about her father.

In California, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act governs involuntary civil commitment for psychiatric treatment.

Bynes was put on a ‘5150 hold,’ which references the state’s welfare and institutions code that provides legal conditions for how a person can be detained for the first 72 hours under care.

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A 72-hour hold can be authorized by a mental health professional at a facility, or a police officer, if they have probable cause that the person is a danger to himself or others in the state of California.

According to a guideline sheet from the website of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, “Simply believing the person is very sick and in need of psychiatric treatment does not meet the criteria.”

An evaluation must take place during the 72-hour hold by a hospital. The evaluation must take into account “his/her medical, psychological, educational, social, financial and legal situation,” according to Mental Health America of California.

Patients are permitted to receive unopened mail, see visitors and use a telephone. They must also be advised of their rights. The patient is also allowed to refuse medical treatment or medicine, so long as there is no emergency or a court does not deem otherwise.

Following the initial hold, the hospital can decide to keep the patient for another 14 day hold, which would include “intensive treatment.”

The hospital must present evidence at a probable cause hearing as to why the patient should not be released within four days of the extended period.

Will Amanda Bynes get the help she needs with this hospitalization? Share your opinions in our poll below.

Image credit: X17online.com

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