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Joel’s Law

What is Joel’s Law?

On July 24, 2015, a new section of Washington State’s involuntary mental health treatment law, Chapter 71.05 Revised Code of Washington (RCW), went into effect. This new section is called
“Joel’s Law”. This allows a person’s immediate family member, legal guardian, or conservator to petition the superior court for initial detention under certain conditions, which are outlined below.

When can someone file a Joel’s Law Petition?

A Joel’s Law Petition may be filed under the following circumstances:

  • You are an immediate family member, legal guardian, or conservator of the person that you seek to have detained. The law defines “immediate family member” as a spouse, domestic partner, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, grandparent, or sibling;
  • A Designated Mental Health Professional (DMHP) has conducted an investigation and decided not to detain that person for evaluation and treatment; or
  • It has been 48 hours since the DMHP received a request for investigation, and the DMHP has not taken action to have the person detained.

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Where can I get the paper work?

Download the “Joel’s Law Petition for Initial Detention by Family, Guardian, or Conservator.” This packet includes the petition, declaration, and user guide. It is directly from the Washington Courts website.

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