Missouri Father has an adult pregnant Daughter.
Father also has a teenaged Son who, apparently, joined the family from foster care.
Son suffers from mental illness and, at times, allegedly is very aggressive.
Son presently lives in a group home equipped to provide appropriate services to meet Son’s special needs.
This arrangement is likely court-ordered through either a juvenile dependency case or a juvenile delinquency case or related cases of both types, as a result of Son’s alleged prior assault on Father.
Son is released to Father for the Thanksgiving holiday. Father and Son go to Daughter’s home for the holiday.
Over the visit, Son reportedly becomes enraged and allegedly assaults Daughter.
Upon arrival of other family members, who assist in restraining Son, Father calls Son’s Therapist.
Therapist advises Father to call the police.
Father calls the police.
The police arrive …
And ask Son whether Son wants to leave for a psychiatric facility.
Son indicates that he does not.
The police advise Father that they cannot take Son to a psychiatric facility against his will.
Father then requests, as an alternative, that they arrest Son and take him to juvenile detention.
The police advise Father that they cannot arrest Son because he is a minor.
One of the officers on the scene is a supervisor.
The officers suggest that Father take Son home with him, away from Daughter.
Father arranges for a family member to return Son to his group home.
This particular family lives in Missouri.
But there are similar families facing similar challenges throughout Florida.
Depending upon Son’s precise conduct and history, Florida law provides at least two different mechanisms for immediate intervention in crises such as this:
- Baker Act-ing (seventy-two hour commitment for psychological evaluation) and
- Arrest on domestic battery by a juvenile
In Florida, law enforcement officers should be familiar with both processes and, in appropriate cases, should be prepared to assist a parent with whichever measure is most appropriate in the case at hand.
In the event that law enforcement officers will not intercede in the immediate family crisis or in the event that family assistance is needed beyond the immediate crisis, a family law attorney with additional experience in juvenile law and, ideally, further experience in mental health law and/or substance abuse law, should be consulted as soon as possible.