Written by attorney Christopher Wesley Keyser

Minnesota's 72 Hour Detox Hold: An Overview


What is a 72 Hour Detox Hold?

Under Minnesota’s "Emergency Hold Law," law enforcement and medical facilities can legally hold a person against his or her will based upon a mental health or chemical health emergency. Persons are often placed into a “detox" process to remove alcohol or drugs from their system. The police often hold people at a hospital or detox facility to allow time to “sober up" before release. Persons generally are not released while still under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What does the law actually say? What authority do police have to detain?

Minn. Stat. §253B, subd. 2, authorizes a peace or health officer to take a person "into custody and transport the person to a licensed physician or treatment facility if the officer has reason to believe, either through direct observation of the person’s behavior, or upon reliable information of the person’s recent behavior and knowledge of the person’s past behavior or psychiatric treatment, that the person is mentally ill or developmentally disabled and in danger of injuring self or others if not immediately detained."

“If danger to specific individuals is a basis for the emergency hold, the statement must include identifying information on those individuals, to the extent practicable."

“A person may be admitted to a treatment facility for emergency care and treatment under this subdivision with the consent of the head of the facility under the following circumstances: (1) a written statement shall only be made by the following individuals who are knowledgeable, trained, and practicing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness or developmental disability; the medical officer, or the officer’s designee on duty at the facility, including a licensed physician, a registered physician assistant, or an advanced practice registered nurse who after preliminary examination has determined that the person has symptoms of mental illness or developmental disability and appears to be in danger of harming self or others if not immediately detained; (2) a written statement is made by the institution program director or the director’s designee on duty at the facility after preliminary examination that the person has symptoms of chemical dependency and appears to be in danger of harming self or others if not immediately detained or is intoxicated in public.

What are the Consequences of a Detox Hold?

Being held in detox is usually an unpleasant experience for people, especially when being detained for no apparent reason. A problem arises when people "sober up" but are still in detention, causing a violation of rights. This can cause the following problems:

· Time away from home and family

· Time away from work, possibly resulting in job loss

· Being stuck in a jail or detox facility with strangers

· Being unfairly treated as a “drunk" or “substance abuser"

How do I get out?!

Sometimes a detox facility will release a person before the expiration of the full 72 hours. Whether the person is released early depends on that person's blood alcohol concentration, any behavior issues during their stay in detox, whether other health issues exist and whether the person was charged with a criminal offense.

If the person was not charged criminally, an attorney can petition the court for early release based on the argument that the person is being detained against his or her will. While the police and detox facilities are able to hold persons for specific reasons (as explained above), once those conditions no longer exist there is a strong argument that the facility no longer has legal authority or basis to continue detaining the person. In short, if the person is no longer under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the person is not a risk to himself/herself or others, there is no longer any reason to hold them in detention.

The Release Process

The first step in releasing a person immediately is contacting a detox release attorney. You will not be able to release someone from detox without the help of an attorney. Once the attorney is retained, s/he must prepare the necessary legal paperwork to submit to a judge for review. Among these documents is an "order for release" which the judge must sign and forward to the facility holding the person. A detox facility must have a signed order from a judge before releasing a person earlier than 72 hours. Whether a judge signs the attorney's proposed order depends on the specific facts of the case and the attorney's persuasive argument.

Hire an Attorney with Experience

Because time is a critical factor in detox release cases, it is imperative to contact a lawyer who understands the system and is familiar with the proper procedure for getting people out. I have successfully secured the release of every client who retained me for detox release services. My successful cases include local "hot spots" such as 1800 Chicago in Minneapolis, Missions Detox in Plymouth and the Dakota Receiving Center in Hastings.

Contact me directly 24/7 at (612) 338-5007 for a free consultation.

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