Civil commitment

Please see ways to contact us on the right hand side of the website.

Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Civil Commitment Training and Resource Center 

Prepetition screening

The prepetition screening program provides an impartial and in-depth clinical assessment of a person who is at risk of being civilly committed, based on mental illness, substance use, developmental disabilities, or a combination of any of the above mentioned.
Guided by state law, the prepetition screening team must conduct a thorough investigation of the proposed patient’s situation before any petition for commitment can be filed. 

The team includes staff from multidisciplinary backgrounds, including substance use assessors, mental health professionals, adult protection social workers, county attorneys, and law enforcement. 

The program is mandated to: 
  • Facilitate the commitment process by working with the patient, treatment community, county attorney’s office, and family members/ natural supports. 
  • Assess whether the patient’s situation meets the criteria for civil commitment as governed by the state of Minnesota Statute. 
  • Divert patients from the civil commitment process by assisting in developing of a less-restrictive alternative.

What to expect

For information or to initiate a petition, call our office at 507.923.2951 


An interested person (a petitioner) must contact our office to begin the process. A medical doctor, a licensed doctoral-level psychologist, or an advanced practice registered nurse who has evaluated the proposed patient in person within the last 15 days must sign and submit an examiner’s statement that supports the commitment.
Prepetition screening program staff are authorized by statute to review all relevant data and to interview the people who have knowledge of the proposed patient’s situation. 

The team will interview the proposed patients, petitioners, family members, service providers, and other concerned people. They will review pertinent documents and records, attempt to determine if a less restrictive alternative to commitment is available, and consult with a team of other prepetition screening professionals to make recommendations.

If the request for a petition is supported, they will prepare a report to the county attorney, outlining the less restrictive options that have been attempted and failed.

Next, if the petition is supported

The report is submitted to the County Attorney’s office for review. A court examination report is required. Within three working days, the court typically holds a probable cause hearing to determine if the person should continue to be held pending a final hearing to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. 

At the first hearing, the court examiner report will be reviewed. During the court process, options less restrictive than commitment will be reviewed and considered by all parties.

Next, if the petition is not supported

The petitioner may appeal the decision. The screen­er provides the county attorney with documentation outlining the rationale for the decision not to proceed.
The county attorney makes the decision whether or not to file the petition, then communicates that decision back to the petitioner.