2019 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 44 - Health
Chapter 52 - Alcohol And Drug Abuse Commitment
Section 44-52-70. Involuntary commitment; examination; report; commencement of judicial proceedings.

Universal Citation: SC Code § 44-52-70 (2019)

Judicial proceedings for the involuntary commitment of an individual may be initiated as follows: An adult person or head of a treatment facility under Section 44-52-40 may file a petition with the court in the county where the person is present or where he is a resident or of the county where the person is hospitalized pursuant to Section 44-52-40, under penalty of perjury, alleging that the person is chemically dependent and in need of involuntary commitment.

The petition must be accompanied by the certificate of a licensed physician stating that he has examined the individual within forty-eight hours before the filing of the petition, unless the individual has refused to submit to a medical exam in which case the fact of refusal must be alleged in the petition. The certificate of the physician shall state that in his opinion, based upon stated reasons, the person is chemically dependent and in need of involuntary commitment for care and treatment. If the person for whom involuntary commitment is sought is a patient of a treatment facility pursuant to Section 44-52-40, the petition shall so state.

The court shall order an examination of the individual for whom involuntary commitment is sought. At the direction of the court, the examination may be made by two designees, one of whom must be a licensed physician. The examination may be performed at a treatment facility or other suitable place, and a report must be submitted to the court within seven days of the date of the hearing.

On the report of the designees of refusal to submit to examination, the court shall order the person for whom involuntary commitment is sought to submit to an examination. If he refuses to obey the court order, the court may require a law enforcement officer to take him into custody for not exceeding twenty-four hours during which time he must be examined by the two designees. A person taken into custody for the purpose of examination may not be placed in a jail or other correctional facility except for protective custody purposes. If within the twenty-four hours the person in custody is not examined by a licensed physician, the proceedings must be terminated and the individual in custody must be immediately released. His attorney must be notified before his confinement. Upon completion of the examination by the designees, the person must be released.

If the reports of the designees are to the effect that the person for whom involuntary commitment is sought is not a chemically dependent person in need of involuntary commitment, the court shall terminate the proceedings. If the two examiners conflict in their opinions, the court shall terminate the proceedings or shall designate a third examiner, who must be knowledgeable in the treatment of chemical dependency and charge the three examiners to render a majority opinion before the date of the court hearing.

Upon the filing of the petition, the court shall fix a date for the hearing to be held not later than twenty days after the date of filing of the petition unless reasonable delay is sought for good cause shown.

The person for whom involuntary commitment is sought must be represented by counsel at all stages of the proceeding. If the individual cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent him.

HISTORY: 1986 Act No. 487, Section 2; 1987 Act No. 116, Section 2; 1989 Act No. 38, Section 2.

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