[FAQ]

Common Questions about the Marchman Act

Attorney Fees and Costs

Over the years we have found the best way to charge our clients is to implement a flat fee. This allows us the ability to concentrate on achieving our client’s ultimate goal of seeing their loved one getting the help they need. We develop a strategic plan to take control and monitor treatment progress regardless of how many times we go to court or how long it takes.

Once a potential client expresses the desire to retain our firm we will send them a client package containing our retention agreement. Our contract indicates that our firm would like to help all families that are in need if our services. The flat fee can be reduced if requested. We take many factors into consideration when determining a reduction. These factors include a potential client’s financial resources, complexity, and location of the case. Costs are typically for service of process and in usual circumstances are minimal. We do not charge above the cost to us for service of process.

Once a fee has been determined, and if necessary, we can structure a comfortable payment plan thereby allowing our clients the ability to see their loved one getting the treatment they need.

Why Does The Marchman Act Work?

The Marchman Act is a civil procedure (not criminal). Accordingly, a Respondent has the right to be noticed of any court proceeding and a right to appear. After a Marchman Act Petition is filed and a hearing date set by the Court, the Respondent has the right to know the time, date, allegations and specific location of a hearing. The Respondent can choose not to attend the hearing but must be noticed properly regardless. A hearing may take place without the Respondent being present if proper service has been met and is demonstrated to the court. There are two manners of service: (1) service by a law enforcement officer or (2) by a private process server. ARLS recommends that the Client pays to have private service of process arranged through ARLS to best coordinate the time and place for the Respondent to be served. A law enforcement officer may simply serve the Respondent at their discretion and outside the control of ARLS. If the officer arrives and the Respondent is not present, service will not be effectuated. This will ultimately result in delaying all legal proceedings. ARLS, through the use of private process service, will coordinate and ensure proper service so there is no delay in achieving your goals.

What is The Marchman Act Process?

ARLS begins the Marchman Act process by filing a Petition and Request for Assessment and Stabilization (Detox) and/or Treatment. Once the court has reviewed this petition, either through an Ex Parte process (no hearing required) or an actual hearing before the court, a court order may be entered. The determination of whether there will be an initial hearing or an Ex Parte review by the court is a strategic decision made between the client and ARLS. The Respondent may be court ordered to immediately go to a facility that has been pre-determined for completion of the assessment/stabilization/detox or be picked up by law enforcement and delivered by them to the nearest facility as ordered by the court for the assessment/stabilization/detox.

Following assessment/stabilization/detox, the treatment providers will render their assessment and make a recommendation for treatment to the court. The client must understand that ARLS and the court officials cannot dictate the level of care and have no influence on the level of treatment or type of treatment the Respondent will receive. The trained professionals base their treatment recommendation and the level of care based on the Respondent’s needs. Typically, treatment is Outpatient Treatment, Day-treatment, Intensive Outpatient Treatment and/or Residential Treatment. It is the obligation of ARLS as the client’s attorney to enforce the order of the court upon the Respondent.

The next step in the Marchman Act process is the filing a Treatment Petition by ARLS, if one has not previously been filed and is warranted. The court will review this petition and the treatment recommendation by the clinician to decide whether to order the Respondent to comply with this recommendation. If the court orders treatment, the order will be in place for a minimum period of ninety (90) days. If the Respondent voluntarily enters treatment prior to the treatment petition being granted ARLS will request to schedule status of the case for the Respondent to appear before the Court within 2-4 weeks. Should the Respondent still be compliant with treatment at that time another status can be requested by ARLS. In essence, even though a treatment order has not been granted, the Respondent will recognize the possibility of said order being entered in the future for any failure to remain in treatment. If a treatment order has been entered and the Respondent is non-compliant in any way, ARLS will file a Rule to Show Cause with the court and bring the Respondent before the Judge for violating the court order and seek sanctions. Generally, if this occurs, the judge will have a hearing, and if proven, give the Respondent one more opportunity to return to treatment and comply with the court order to avoid incarceration. Should the respondent yet again fail to comply with the court order they will be found in civil contempt and possibly incarcerated until they are ready to return to treatment. It is important to note, serving time for contempt does not invalidate the existence or duration of the original order for treatment. The Respondent must continue treatment pursuant to the original order subsequent to being released from custody.

The client must further understand that although the Respondent is recommended at one particular level of care during the assessment the clinicians may increase or decrease the level of care at any time. Often, a Respondent, based on their participation (or, lack thereof) may start at one level of care, but subsequently, need a higher or lower level of care based upon their participation in the treatment process – this is not uncommon and should be expected. ARLS will monitor the Respondent and bring the Respondent before the court as many times as necessary to force the Respondent to comply with the treatment recommendations during the ninety (90) day period. Prior to the end of the 90 day treatment period, should the Respondent still meet Marchman Act criteria, based on a medical professionals recommendation, an extension can be filed for up to an additional ninety (90) days. Although ARLS and the court cannot dictate the level of care, they are able to enforce the court order so that the Respondent receives the treatment they need during the court-ordered period. Sobriety is ALWAYS a condition of a Marchman Act Order.

Are Marchman Act Proceedings Confidential?

All proceedings pursuant to Florida Statute 397 – the Marchman Act – is deemed confidential and not a matter of public record. The confidentiality of the entire matter is required pursuant to the Statute.

In regard to Marchman Act medical records and treatment records, Federal HIPAA Law and the rules of confidentiality are very strict and can be frustrating for the client when the Respondent refuses to sign an “Authorization for Release of Information”. The client will also undoubtedly be frustrated when a treatment facility is unable to answer questions regarding the respondent’s treatment due to consent not being signed. To ensure continued enforcement, ARLS will request the court order the treatment provider to testify in support of any necessary motions or petitions pending before the court.

Note: Although the treatment facility cannot disclose information without a release of information or court order, this does not stop ARLS from returning to court if the client observes that the Respondent is failing to comply with treatment, suspects that this is the case, or, has knowledge that the Respondent has relapsed.

What is an Ex-Parte Petition?

The lawyers at ARLS may, after speaking with a potential client, determine that an Ex-parte Petition is necessary (or, the client’s specific county may require initial Ex-Parte petitions). Simply put, an Ex-Parte Petition requests that the court enter an order having the Respondent involuntarily placed into assessment/stabilization/detox without a hearing based solely on the information in the petition. If granted, a judge will order the Respondent to be picked up and delivered to the pre-determined treatment facility for assessment, stabilization and/or detox. The pick-up order will be executed by law enforcement. This pick-up typically can be accomplished within twenty-four (24) to forty-eight (48) hours after filing. The Respondent will be picked up and taken to the detox facility unless the Respondent flees or evades law enforcement.

Note: It is very important that the Respondent has no knowledge of Marchman Act proceedings under such circumstances to maximize success.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marchman Act Hearing?

The law provides time frames that the court system needs to adhere to upon filing. Within ten (10) days of the filing of a Marchman Act petition, a hearing must be held or a decision be made ex-parte. ARLS will do everything in our power to expedite all hearings. It is important for the Client to understand that ARLS has no control over the clerk or court system. Every county procedure is different. ARLS will work diligently with each court system to ensure that the law is followed in its entirety and expedited for the Client and Respondent’s benefit.

Does the Respondent Need an Attorney?

The Respondent, by statute, has the right to an attorney at every stage of the proceedings. A court-appointed attorney will be available to the Respondent if they are unable to obtain counsel due to financial reasons. The Respondent does have the right to hire a private attorney.

Can The Marchman Act be Filed More Than Once?

Yes. The Marchman Act can be filed as many times as necessary. However, ARLS is required by law to begin a new process for each filing. Fees and services would be incurred for any new proceeding in the future if warranted.

How Do I Communicate With ARLS?

ARLS has your best interests in mind and our office works as a team to make sure the process runs smoothly for everyone. Your calls are extremely important. We do appreciate your understanding when we are not able to take your call immediately. Your call will be returned as soon as possible. All clients are provided with a direct avenue to reach their specific attorney by telephone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ARLS recognizes that Client communication is an important element to the success of each and every case.

Who Does ARLS Represent?

The attorneys at ARLS have lectured to and try to educate and work with many hospitals, doctors, substance abuse professionals, and treatment providers. However, ARLS has no formal financial relationship with any substance abuse providers. We represent you – The Client.

What If I Cannot Afford The Cost of Treatment?

Substance abuse treatment is either paid for privately (cash) or through pre-existing, personal insurance plans. If neither the Respondent nor the Client has the ability to pay for treatment, the only treatment alternative is typically the use of a county or government-funded indigent program. The Client must recognize that the use of any treatment program that is not paid for privately or through insurance may result in a delay of the Marchman Act process. County or government-funded treatment programs typically have limited bed availability and treatment capacity, which may result in the Respondent being placed on a waiting list for a bed for detox or residential treatment.

ARLS will enforce compliance by the Respondent of the rules and regulations of the government-run program; including sobriety while waiting for an available bed. However, the client must recognize that any delay in providing immediate treatment influences the overall chance for immediate success. Should the Client have the ability to pay for treatment privately (cash) or utilize insurance, ARLS will present this alternative treatment option to the Respondent as an alternative to the potential delays of an indigent based treatment program.

What Should I Know About The Marchman Act Process?

A Client must understand that they are hiring ARLS to perform legal services pursuant to the Florida Marchman Act statute. This is a multi-step legal process that will be litigated within the Court system. If a Client decides to stop or stall any of the proceedings, this can result in the petition(s) being denied and/or dismissed. Accordingly, it is essential that the Client follow the advice of the attorneys as to the legal process and allow them to proceed without interference based on their vast experience with the workings of this law.

ARLS understands that it is difficult for any family to watch a loved one suffer from substance abuse and addiction, which is a serious, chronic medical condition. Accordingly, although the client may want immediate results, the Marchman Act is a process that is dictated by external factors outside the control of ARLS (e.g., the Clerk of the Courts schedule, judicial schedule, availability of hearing dates and law enforcement involvement). ARLS will act in order to reasonably expedite the Marchman Act process for the Client. The Client acknowledges that utilization of the Marchman Act through litigation is an ongoing process and not an instant fix.

Will the Respondent Know a Marchman Act Has Been Filed?

The Marchman Act is a civil procedure (not criminal). Accordingly, a Respondent has the right to be noticed of any court proceeding and a right to appear. After a Marchman Act Petition is filed and a hearing date set by the Court, the Respondent has the right to know the time, date, allegations and specific location of a hearing. The Respondent can choose not to attend the hearing but must be noticed properly regardless. A hearing may take place without the Respondent being present if proper service has been met and is demonstrated to the court. There are two manners of service: (1) service by a law enforcement officer or (2) by a private process server. ARLS recommends that the Client pays to have private service of process arranged through ARLS to best coordinate the time and place for the Respondent to be served. A law enforcement officer may simply serve the Respondent at their discretion and outside the control of ARLS. If the officer arrives and the Respondent is not present, service will not be effectuated. This will ultimately result in delaying all legal proceedings. ARLS, through the use of private process service, will coordinate and ensure proper service so there is no delay in achieving your goals.

Still need help?

Send us a note or call us +1 (877) 35-ABUSE

Addiction Recovery Legal Services LLC
888 S. Andrews Avenue
Suite 203
Fort Lauderdale, FL. 33316
T: 1 (877) 35-ABUSE
F: 1 (954) 522-2584

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