An Overview of Civil Commitment in Minnesota

An Overview of Civil Commitment in Minnesota

In the case of a civil commitment, the court orders a person into treatment based on mental health concerns. Specifically, the court may involuntarily commit somebody into a treatment facility if he or she has a mental illness, is unwilling to seek treatment voluntarily, or is a threat to the safety of himself/herself or the safety of others.

There are two different types of commitments. The first is based upon a designation of “mentally ill, developmentally disabled, or chemically dependent.” According to Minnesota Statute §253B.09, the court may involuntarily commit a person if the State proves by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is mentally ill, developmentally disabled, or chemically dependent. Minnesota Statute §253B.02 defines mentally ill as:

  1. Any person who has an organic disorder of the brain or a substantial psychiatric disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, or memory, and…
  2. Said disorder grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or to reason or understand; and as a result poses a substantial likelihood of physical harm to self or others.

The second type of commitment is based upon a designation as a “sexually dangerous person (SDP) and/or sexual psychopathic personality (SPP).” According to Minnesota Statute §253D.07, a sexually dangerous person or a person with a sexual psychopathic personality must be held in a treatment facility for an amount of time to be determined later. In other words, there is no indication of when a person will be released from the involuntary commitment.

What, then, is the trouble with civil commitments? Simply put: the means by which the State (or interested person) proves its case and the consequence if commitment is deemed necessary. Specifically, civil commitments are civil in nature; this means that the burden of proof is lowered to “clear and convincing evidence” as opposed to “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Additionally, the consequence of being civilly committed is involuntary treatment in a locked facility. Depending on the statute under which a person is committed, he or she may never be released.

Clearly, it is crucial to find an aggressive Minnesota criminal lawyer when the State (or interested party) initiates civil commitment proceedings. A Minnesota criminal defense attorney can use specific defense strategies to avoid involuntary commitment, like finding less restrictive alternatives or stays of commitment. For a more detailed look at civil commitments in Minnesota, please visit the corresponding page on our website, at the following link:

As always, If you’re a Minnesota or Wisconsin resident seeking information on how Repka Law can fight for you or your loved ones, contact Repka Law at DANIEL@REPKALAWLLC.COM

(651) 395-7421