5150 Hold 101

What is a 5150 hold?

A 5150 hold allows an individual with a mental illness to be involuntarily held for a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization. The hold may not last for the full 72 hours, but the hospital has the legal right to determine the length of stay within that 72-hour period.

Section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code states that any California peace officer can insist on the confinement of a person who is exhibiting “probable cause” to make him or her believe that the behavior called to their attention is the “result of a mental disorder, a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled.” Each state has their own version of the hold, though California’s 5150 provision allows the state to take a person in no matter where his or her primary residence is.

What makes someone eligible for a 5150 hold?

There are three conditions that can make someone eligible for a 5150 hold. However, only one condition needs to be met to involuntarily hold someone. Such conditions must be present in the context of a mental illness. The three conditions are:

  1. If the person is a danger to him/herself: For example, someone who is suicidal and/or has a plan to do harm him/her self falls into this category.
  2. If the person is a danger to others: Someone who is a threat to the safety of others.
  3. If the person is gravely disabled:
    1. Adults – The person’s mental illness prevents him/her from being able to provide for shelter, clothing and/or food, and they have no one to assist. The homeless may not necessarily be eligible if they are able to seek housing when weather demands. Such inabilities must stem from the psychiatric condition.
    2. Minors (Under 18)- The person is unable to provide for his/her food, clothing and/or shelter even if they are being provided. An example of this may be someone not eating because they believe they are trying to be poisoned.

What Are My Rights in a Mental Health Facility?

You can find out your rights by reading the linked handbook below: