Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 53.1. Prisons and Other Methods of Correction
Chapter 2. State Correctional Facilities
5/12/2021

§ 53.1-40.2. Involuntary admission of prisoners with mental illness.

A. Upon the petition of the Director or his designee, any district court judge or any special justice, as defined by § 37.2-100, of the county or city where the prisoner is located may issue an order authorizing involuntary admission of a prisoner who is sentenced and committed to the Department of Corrections and who is alleged or reliably reported to have a mental illness to a degree that warrants hospitalization.

B. Such prisoner may be involuntarily admitted to a hospital or facility for the care and treatment of persons with mental illness by complying with the following admission procedures:

1. A hearing on the petition shall be scheduled as soon as possible, allowing the prisoner an opportunity to prepare any defenses which he may have, obtain independent evaluation and expert opinion at his own expense, and summons other witnesses.

2. Prior to such hearing, the judge or special justice shall fully inform the prisoner of the allegations of the petition, the standard upon which he may be admitted involuntarily, the right of appeal from such hearing to the circuit court, and the right to jury trial on appeal. The judge or special justice shall ascertain if the prisoner is represented by counsel, and, if he is not represented by counsel, the judge or special justice shall appoint an attorney to represent the prisoner.

3. The judge or special justice shall require an examination of such prisoner by a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker who is licensed in Virginia or, if such psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker is not available, a physician or psychologist who is licensed in Virginia and who is qualified in the diagnosis of mental illness. The judge or special justice shall summons the examiner, who shall certify that he has personally examined the individual and has probable cause to believe that the prisoner does or does not have mental illness, that there does or does not exist a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the prisoner will, in the near future, cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information, if any, and that the prisoner does or does not require involuntary hospitalization. The judge or special justice may accept written certification of the examiner's findings if the examination has been personally made within the preceding five days and if there is no objection to the acceptance of such written certification by the prisoner or his attorney.

4. If the judge or special justice, after observing the prisoner and obtaining the necessary positive certification and other relevant evidence, finds specifically that (i) the prisoner has a mental illness and that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the prisoner will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information, if any, or (b) suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs, and (ii) alternatives to involuntary admission have been investigated and deemed unsuitable and there is no less restrictive alternative to such admission, the judge or special justice shall by written order and specific findings so certify and order that the prisoner be placed in a hospital or other facility designated by the Director for a period not to exceed 180 days from the date of the court order. Such placement shall be in a hospital or other facility for the care and treatment of persons with mental illness that is licensed or operated by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

5. The judge or special justice shall also order that the relevant medical records of such prisoner be released to the hospital, facility, or program in which he is placed upon request of the treating physician or director of the hospital, facility, or program.

6. The Department shall prepare the forms required in procedures for admission as approved by the Attorney General. These forms, which shall be the legal forms used in such admissions, shall be distributed by the Department to the clerks of the general district courts of the various counties and cities of the Commonwealth and to the directors of the respective state hospitals.

1988, c. 873; 2005, c. 716; 2008, cc. 779, 850, 870; 2009, cc. 813, 840; 2020, c. 945.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.