My friend's parents took her phone, keys, even her shoes and are forcibly keeping her at their home in New Castle, PA because they think she is using drugs. She is 25. Her father is a well respected firefighter in the town so no one questions him. She has not harmed herself or anyone else and has not threatened anyone. She is not sick or in any danger. She wants to come home to Ohio but cannot. They are forcing her to get a psych evaluation. Is this legal? How can I help her?
Though I do not practice in Pennsylvania, I cannot think of many legal procedures by which a private citizen can forcibly detain another adult. There are procedures in most states for a person to petition a court to issue an order for someone to be picked up for a drug or mental health evaluation, if the petitioner convinces the court that there is probable cause to believe the respondent is a danger to herself or others because of mental illness or addiction.
Aside from posting this question in the civil rights practice area with New Castle, PA as the location of the question so knowledgeable attorneys in PA might answer, you could call the New Castle police and see if you can convince them to conduct a wellness check at your friend's parents' home.
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If the parents are keeping their 25 year old child against her will then this can constitute unlawful restraint. Otherwise, I agree with Mr. Rich.
This sounds like kidnapping to me. Someone may contact local law enforcement to request a welfare check at the home. If Mental Health treatment is needed then law enforcement may step in.
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