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Obtaining an Emergency Mental Health Writ of Detention

In instances where there is an issue of mental stability and a person appears to be a danger to him/herself or others (i.e. not sleeping, loss of weight, talking to self, not eating, combative behavior, etc.), there is a remedy through the Illinois Mental Health Code.  If an Emergency Writ is issued, the person can be picked up for detention by the Police Department.  The process for the issuance of an Emergency Writ is as follows: 

  • The petitioner must be at least 18 years of age.
  • The petitioner would contact the Office of the Cook County State's Attorney - the Mental Health Division at (312) 603-8600.
  • An Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) will interview the petitioner to determine if the behavior of the person in question qualifies for an Emergency Writ.
  • If it is determined that the person indeed qualifies, the ASA will complete a petition for an Emergency Writ and file it with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the County Division.
  • After filing the petition with our Office, the ASA will take the petitioner to a County Division Judge for an interview and testimony as to the behavior of the person in question.  From the testimony given in open court, the determination will be made if that person qualifies for detention and evaluation. If the person is deemed to be a danger to him/herself or others, the judge will issue an Emergency Writ.  The petitioner will then have the Emergency Writ certified by the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
  • Once the Emergency Writ is issued, the petitioner must contact the Police Department and inform them that there has been an Emergency Writ issued for the person in question and also notify the Police Department of the location of the person, so that he/she can be picked up and taken to the facility named on the Emergency Writ for an evaluation.  The Emergency Writ is in effect for 72 hours after being issued by the Court. It is important that the petitioner act promptly in locating the person.  If the person is not located within 72 hours, the petitioner will have to repeat the process.