civil commitment | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Policing

Civil commitment in the criminal justice context refers to the legal process of involuntarily committing an individual to a mental health facility or treatment program due to concerns about the individual’s mental health or dangerousness.

Civil commitment is usually initiated by a government agency, such as a law enforcement agency or a mental health department, and may be ordered by a judge or other court official.

The purpose of civil commitment is to provide treatment and supervision for individuals who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others due to their mental illness or mental health conditions. In many jurisdictions, civil commitment can be ordered if an individual is found to be incompetent to stand trial or if an individual is found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Civil commitment can be a controversial issue, as it involves the involuntary detention of individuals who may not have been convicted of a crime. It is important for the legal process of civil commitment to be carefully structured and overseen to ensure that the rights and due process of the individuals being committed are protected.

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Last Modified: 01/08/2023


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