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Understanding 72 & 14 Hour Mental Health Holds in California

In California, any person who is a danger to him/herself or to others because of a mental disorder or a grave disability can be placed in a psychiatric hospital for a 72-hour treatment and evaluation. 72-hour-holds are typically initiated when law enforcement is called in and believes that mental illness is an issue. During a 72-hour hold the person who is the subject of the hold will be brought to a psychiatric facility and will be evaluated. Although it is commonly called a 72 hour hold, the hold can only extend beyond 24 hours if the evaluating psychiatrist believes the person continues to be a danger to themselves or to others. At this stage, the person being held does not have the right to speak with an attorney.

After a 72-hour-hold the evaluating psychiatrist may determine that the individual is still a danger to himself or others, and therefore should be held for further treatment. If he or she does not wish to stay for further treatment, a hearing is held to determine whether an additional 14-day hold is appropriate. At this hearing an attorney may represent the person being held. If you or someone you love is in this situation make sure the attorney you contact has experience dealing with mental health cases in particular. An attorney like Mr. Welch will be familiar with various psychiatric conditions or medications.

Additional involuntary commitment is possible, but most of the time an involuntary commitment longer than 47 days will require a conservatorship arrangement.

Mental Illness as a Defense

You may have heard the term “insanity defense” used to describe a situation where someone who has committed avoids punishment because they were insane when they committed the crime.In California, someone who has committed a crime may receive a verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” ( NGRI). However, that does not mean they may simply walk away. Typically, an NGRI verdict actually results in lengthy commitment in a treatment facility following the trial. An NGRI defense is extremely complex, but it is often appropriate—and our criminal lawyers in Ventura are more than ready to help!


Courts will impose a conservatorship arrangement only if it is demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the person in question is “gravely disabled” – in other words, unable to care for their own basic needs – or if they are a danger to themselves or others.

After a conservatorship is established, it may be renewed annually. Each year the person on conservatorship (conservatee) may request a review of their conservatorship. An attorney may help the conservatee at this time. Dealing with mental illness can be very difficult, especially where an individual is charged with a criminal act. Mr. Welch has extensive, in-depth experience with mental health courts and with assisting those with mental illness in a number of situations.

Contact the Law Office of Christopher P. Welch today to find out more about conservatorships.

The Stories that Matter

See What Our Previous Clients Have to Say
  • “Mr. Welch took care of all my worries and concerns while clearing my name through all the false accusations. I was more than happy with the outcome we were awarded”

    - James D.
  • “Mr. Welch communicated with us every step of the way, making us feel comfortable in his capable hands going through the worst situations our family has faced. We are forever grateful for his help, and can not recommend him enough. If you or a loved one are”

    - Lynette D.
  • “As an Attorney, he went above and beyond the call of duty to meet my legal needs. I recommend Mr. Welch for any legal counsel 100%. Chris will always reply to your messages or any questions right away and is very courteous and personable!”

    - Janet O.

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