Mental Health

Involuntary Commitment Resources

Program Documents:

Criteria for Involuntary Commitment” provides the criteria for involuntary commitment and their statutory definitions.

North Carolina Involuntary Commitment Process” is a diagram of the steps leading to court-ordered treatment after initiating the commitment process using each of the three commitment procedures (layperson, authorized clinician, emergency).

Steps Following the Issuance of a Custody Order for Involuntary Commitment” explains the steps that will occur following the magistrate’s issuance of a custody order in response to a petition for involuntary commitment.

Steps Following a Clinician Request for Involuntary Commitment” explains the steps that will occur following the submission of a petition for commitment to a magistrate by a clinician authorized to perform the first examination in the commitment process.

Procedure for Respondents with Mental Retardation” describes some of the special procedural steps that must be followed if an individual, in addition to being mentally ill and dangerous to self or others, also has mental retardation.

Involuntary Commitment Cases” summarizes seven cases where the court reviewed the facts to determine whether they supported a finding of dangerousness to self or dangerousness to others.

"Overview of Commitment Law and Procedure" sets forth the commitment criteria and outlines the commitment procedure beginning with the petition and custody order and continuing through the first and second examinations, court hearing and disposition, treatment, rehearing, supplemental hearing, and termination.

"Emergency Procedure for Substance Abuse Commitment" outlines the criteria and procedure for an individual who is a substance abuser, dangerous to self or others, and in need of restraint due to violent behavior.



  1. “The Magistrate’s Role in Involuntary Commitment,” by Joan G. Brannon, September 2007, Administration of Justice Bulletin, no. 2007/05, School of Government, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    This bulletin defines involuntary civil commitment, describes the commitment process, and focuses on the magistrate’s role in the process that potentially leads to involuntary civil commitment. It includes discussions on criteria for issuing a custody order, the procedure for initiating involuntary commitment, emergency commitment for mentally ill and substance abuse respondents, transportation orders, and more.

    Link to free, online version in PDF format: The Magistrate's Role in Involuntary Commitment

  2. North Carolina Civil Commitment Manual, by Lou A. Newman, 2006, School of Government, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services.

    Designed to assist the attorney representing a respondent or minor in civil commitment proceedings, this manual reviews North Carolina mental health and substance abuse laws pertaining to inpatient and outpatient commitments and admissions. Analyzes in depth the relevant statutes in Chapter 122C of the North Carolina General Statutes and applicable case law. Also discusses the collateral consequences resulting from commitment as well as the special provisions on commitment of respondents involved with the criminal justice system. Although the manual’s focus is on commitments and admissions requiring judicial review, and thus on proceedings requiring the appointment of counsel, the manual is a clear, usable resource for anyone who works in this challenging area of law.

    To order, go here.