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  Casey's Law:  Involuntary treatment for alcohol or drug abuse  
 

           Casey’s law is the common name given to Kentucky Revised Statute § 222.430 through § 222.437 regarding the involuntary treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.  The law went into effect on July 13, 2004. It is named after Matthew “Casey” Wethington, a young man who suffered from a drug addiction and died of a heroin overdose at the age of twenty-three.

               Casey’s Law provides a means of intervention with someone who is unable to recognize his or her needs for treatment due to their addiction.  Casey’s Law allows parents, relatives, and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the person who is abusing alcohol and/or drugs (respondent).  The treatment options available under the law can vary depending on circumstances of each individual case, and can range from detoxification to intensive treatment through recovery.  The person seeking the involuntary treatment (petitioner) is obligated to pay all costs incurred in the process as well as all cost of treatment and must sign a guaranty of payment.  Costs incurred can be extensive, something the petitioner should be aware of before signing the guaranty of payment. 

               Under Casey’s law, a person suffering from drug or alcohol abuse will not be ordered to undergo involuntary treatment unless that person presents an imminent threat of danger to their self, family or others as a result of alcohol or drug abuse, or there exists a substantial likelihood of such a threat of danger in the near future. Additionally, It must also be determined that the respondent can reasonably benefit from the treatment ordered.

              To seek intervention using Casey’s law, one must petition the court.  The petition is first filed in District Court by the petitioner (spouse, relative and/or friend).   The petition includes the basis of how the respondent is suffering from alcohol and/or drug abuse and how the respondent presents a danger or threat of danger to self, family, or others if not treated.  Upon receipt of the petition, the court reviews the allegations in the petition and examines the petitioner under oath.  The court then determines whether there is probable cause to believe that the respondent should be ordered to undergo involuntary treatment.  If probable cause is established, the court orders the respondent to be evaluated and a hearing to determine if involuntary treatment is proper is set within fourteen days.

             The respondent is then notified of the date and purpose of the hearing.  The respondent must be evaluated by two qualified health professionals, at least one whom is a physician, at least twenty-four hours prior to the hearing.  If the respondent does not voluntarily attend the evaluation before the hearing the court may issue a summons to the respondent.  The summons commands the respondent to appear at a time and place for evaluation.  The respondent must be served with the summons before any further action may take place.  If the respondent is avoiding service of the summons or the respondent’s location is unknown, the process halts until the respondent is located and the summons is served upon him/her.

            If the responded has been served with the summons and fails to appear for the evaluation, the court may order the sheriff or other police officer to transport the respondent to a facility for examination (these transportation cost are also included in the cost of treatment, which the petitioner is liable). 

           Once the respondent has been evaluated the court will have the hearing to determine if involuntary treatment is proper.  If upon completion of the hearing, the court finds that the respondent should undergo treatment, the court shall order treatment from sixty days up to three hundred sixty days, dependent upon the request in the petition and the result of the hearing.  Failure of respondent to undergo treatment as ordered by the court may place the respondent in contempt of court.

              A copy of the petition for involuntary treatment for alcohol or drug abuse can be obtained at the Kenton County Attorneys Office, where an Assistant County Attorney must aid the petitioner in completing the required information.  A copy of the petition may also be located online at www.kycourts.net.