Civil commitment or involuntary hospitalization is a legal process through which an individual with symptoms of severe mental illness is court-ordered into treatment in a hospital. Emergency hospitalization for up to 72 hours is allowed if certified by a doctor and another clinician or law enforcement. Patients cannot be held beyond 72 hours without their consent unless a petition is filed in the Family Court. Once the petition is filed the patient is appointed a Public Defender to make sure their rights are protected. The Public Defender will meet with the patient and advise our client as to whether further involuntary hospitalization might be warranted for further evaluation and stabilization by mental health professionals or if the client should proceed with an independent evaluation and a formal court hearing where testimony and other evidence may also be submitted. Civil commitment cases are confidential proceedings and records of such proceedings are sealed in the courthouse and not subject to public disclosure.