Substance Use

Casey’s Law: What Is It and Which States?

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The What and Where of Casey’s Law

Casey’s Law is legislation from 2004 that allows family members to sign a loved one into an addiction treatment center for involuntary treatment if they are unable or unwilling to seek help on their own. The law is named after Matthew Casey Wethington, known to family and friends as Casey, who died of a heroin overdose at just 23 years of age.

Under Casey’s Law, if the substance abuse-impaired person leaves the treatment center or refuses treatment, a judge can put them in jail until they decide that treatment is the best option. However, jail time won’t burden them with a criminal record. In effect, Casey’s Law offers family members a way to intercede for a loved one with substance abuse issues or a substance use disorder (SUD).

Do you have a family member struggling with addiction who won’t get the treatment they desperately need? We know how powerless you can feel in this situation. Thanks to Casey’s Law, similar laws around the country, and court-ordered treatment, you have the power to help your loved one. Contact the addiction specialists at Zinnia Health online or call us at (855) 430-9439.

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What States Recognize Casey’s Law?

This state legislation became law in 2004 in Kentucky and Ohio after Casey’s mother, Charlotte Wethington, advocated for stronger, more direct ways to help family members needing help. The law allows a family member or friend to petition the courts for permission to have a family member with substance use disorder surrender themselves to involuntary addiction treatment at a treatment facility.

Casey’s Law is currently pending in Georgia and West Virginia. States with laws similar to Casey’s Law include:

States that currently have no laws like Casey’s Law regarding substance abuse and involuntary treatment but may have initiatives pending include:

If your state has Casey’s Law or something similar, asking a court to intervene (known as invoking Casey’s Law) doesn’t restrict where your loved one can go for drug treatment. When the court grants your request, you’re allowed to choose the facility and location.

Are you considering invoking a substance abuse law to help your loved one? Zinnia Health can help guide you through the process of involuntary drug abuse treatment, offer information about our treatment facilities, and tell you more about our locations. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to speak with a compassionate specialist.

How Do You Invoke Casey’s Law?

Any parent, relative, or close friend of someone with the disease of addiction can initiate a petition. It might feel scary or overwhelming — there’s a lot to consider in this situation. Just take it one step at a time.

Casey’s Law and laws like it were designed just for people like you so you can step in and potentially save the life of the person you care about. Initiating the process is relatively the same in both Kentucky and Ohio, with a few minor differences.

In Kentucky

  1. Download a Casey’s Law petition (also known as Form 700a).
  2. Navigate to the official website for Kentucky’s courthouses.
  3. Click the Counties dropdown menu; click on your county to find your county court.
  4. Under the Category tab, click Circuit Clerks.
  5. Enter all the contact information for your county’s Circuit Clerk in the appropriate boxes on the petition.
  6. Keeping in mind treatment options and costs, transportation, and other logistics, decide on the treatment center most suitable for your situation.
  7. Contact the treatment facilities to provide you and your loved one’s information so both sides are prepared if the judge grants your petition and orders treatment.
  8. Schedule evaluation appointments with two separate health care professionals. Both appointments should be within a one- to ten-day window from the date you submit your petition. Make sure the information for the appointment dates, times, and providers is listed as part of your petition so the court can order your loved one to attend.
  9. Remember, you are under oath. Review your petition, ensuring no errors, then file it with the circuit court clerk in person. Do not sign the petition yet! You will sign at the courthouse in front of a notary public.
  10. The court reviews your petition and decides to proceed if you’ve proven probable cause.
  11. The judge will order your loved one, also known as the petition’s respondent, to attend the two physical and mental health evaluations for drug use (the appointments you’ve set), with a hearing to follow no later than 14 days.
  12. Your loved one will receive a Notice to Appear that states the date, time, and reason for the hearing.
  13. Your loved one must attend both evaluations, after which you’ll submit the sealed findings no later than 24 hours prior to the scheduled hearing. If your loved one didn’t go to the appointments (or doesn’t come to the hearing), the judge would take this into consideration when deciding whether to mandate substance abuse treatment.
  14. If treatment is mandated, the order will be for no less than 60 days but no more than 360 days. The timeframe depends on the information you provide in your petition and the outcome of the hearing.

In Ohio

The steps to initiate Casey’s Law in Ohio are relatively the same, with one caveat: You’ll file your petition with your county’s probate court, not the circuit court clerk. Contact the probate court in your county to obtain the forms used in your state.

Casey’s Law FAQ

What happens if your loved one doesn’t cooperate with the judge’s ruling?

Failing to follow through with the court’s order is a serious matter. They will be in contempt of court. While this charge won’t become a criminal record, your loved one will be remanded to the county jail and held until they agree to attend treatment as mandated.

What happens when a person under Casey’s Law leaves the treatment center?

If your loved one leaves a program before they’ve completed it, police have the authority to find them and return them to the facility.

Can a person petition for Casey’s Law more than once?

Yes. If your loved one relapses after being released from treatment, you can submit another petition.

What should a petitioner include in their statement?

Include any documentation or notarized statements that prove the claims in the petition, such as:

  • Bills for emergency medical care
  • Attempted treatment programs
  • Police reports for arrests
  • Reports from car accidents
  • Bank account information to show the loss or lack of employment

These documents help you prove the danger they pose, whether to themselves or other people, due to severe substance abuse.

Zinnia Health and You: Helping Loved Ones Heal for Good

Petitioning the courts to invoke Casey’s Law should be a last-ditch effort after other measures have been exhausted. Before you file, have you:

Usually, a person will agree to enter a substance abuse treatment program after a genuine conversation. Trying a respectful, loving intervention can help your loved one understand your motives — that it’s all out of love.

If you have tried the above and still haven’t been able to help your loved one manage the disease of addiction, Zinnia Health offers evidence-based treatment options for drug abuse. Give us a call at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.

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