BRIAN SIMMONS: A look at Title 36

Brian Simmons walks into the street to greet officers arriving in response to a noise complaint on Simmons' property in August. Moments later, the situation escalated. After an exchange of gunfire, Simmons was dead. [Still photo from Maricopa Police Department body-camera video]

If an individual suffers a mental-health crisis and is unwilling to get voluntary help, as with Brian Simmons, an involuntary commitment process is available under Title 36, A.R.S. § 36-520(A).

In Arizona, Title 36 provides for a person to seek an evaluation of another person suspected of experiencing a mental-health crisis and who is unwilling to get voluntary help.

The statute states: “Any responsible individual may apply for a court-ordered evaluation of a person who is alleged to be, as a result of a mental disorder, a danger to self or to others, persistently or acutely disabled, or gravely disabled and who is unwilling or unable to undergo a voluntary evaluation.”

Screening: Applications for involuntary evaluation and emergency admission are submitted to a screening agency, which has 24 hours to observe the patient. If after 24 hours further evaluation is warranted, the individual is then transferred to a contracted evaluation agency and has 72 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) to complete the Court Ordered Evaluation.

If the evaluation finds treatment is required and the patient remains unwilling to get treatment voluntarily, a Petition for Court-Ordered Treatment is completed by one of the two evaluating doctors.