Lanterman–Petris–Short Act

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The Lanterman–Petris–Short (LPS) Act (Cal. Welf & Inst. Code, sec. 5000 et seq.) concerns the involuntary civil commitment to a mental health institution in the State of California. The act set the precedent for modern mental health commitment procedures in the United States. The bi-partisan bill was co-authored by California State Assemblyman Frank D. Lanterman (R) and California State Senators Nicholas C. Petris (D) and Alan Short (D), and signed into law in 1967 by Governor Ronald Reagan. The Act went into full effect on July 1, 1972. It cited seven articles of intent:

  • To end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of mentally disordered persons, people with developmental disabilities, and persons impaired by chronic alcoholism, and to eliminate legal disabilities;
  • To provide prompt evaluation and treatment of persons with serious mental disorders or impaired by chronic alcoholism;
  • To guarantee and protect public safety;
  • To safeguard individual rights through judicial review;
  • To provide individualized treatment, supervision, and placement services by a conservatorship program for gravely disabled persons;
  • To encourage the full use of all existing agencies, professional personnel and public funds to accomplish these objectives and to prevent duplication of services and unnecessary expenditures;
  • To protect mentally disordered persons and developmentally disabled persons from criminal acts.

The Act in effect ended all hospital commitments by the judiciary system, except in the case of criminal sentencing, e.g., convicted sexual offenders, and those who were "gravely disabled", defined as unable to obtain food, clothing, or housing [Conservatorship of Susan T., 8 Cal. 4th 1005 (1994)]. It did not, however, impede the right of voluntary commitments. It expanded the evaluative power of psychiatrists and created provisions and criteria for holds.

Sections of LPS law[edit]

There are many sections and subsections of the California-only LPS law. Some are commonly used in mental health settings.[1]


A 5150 (involuntary psychiatric hold) is an involuntary 72-hour hold in a psychiatric facility, for evaluation. A peace officer, registered nurse, medical doctor, or certain other categories of people may place the hold. Three criteria apply to this section: a danger to themselves, a danger to others, or gravely disabled.


Section 5250 allows a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person deemed to have certain mental disorders for up to 14 days, following being involuntarily held for 72 hours under a Section 5150 hold.

The hold is placed by psychiatric staff who determine a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to him or her self, and/or others and/or gravely disabled, and deemed to need more than a 72-hour hold for treatment. If the person is not a danger to him or her self or others, the person cannot be held if there are responsible family members, friends, or others who are voluntarily willing and able to care for the person.


Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 5270 refers to an additional 30-day involuntary psychiatric hold over and above that of a 5150 and 5250 hold in the state of California.[2] It is recommended by a doctor or medical facility.

Temporary conservatorship[edit]

Otherwise known as a T-Con (under W&I Code § 5352.1), may be initiated at any time while a patient is on hold, but usually occurs during the time in which a patient is on a 14-day hold for Grave Disability. Once the patient is on a T-Con, the patient is no longer legally on a "hold," but is temporarily conserved pending the actual conservatorship hearing. Although initially established for a 30-day period, T-Cons can be extended for up to one year as a general conservatorship. When a patient is detained on either a 5250 (14-day hold) or a 5270 (30-day hold) they are entitled to a Probable Cause Hearing in which a determination is made whether the hold meets legal criteria (if the hold is not legal, the patient may be discharged if he or she wishes.) Once a patient is on a T-Con or an actual conservatorship, the person is no longer on a 14-day or 30-day hold, and therefore, has no right to a Probable Cause Hearing. If the patient wishes, while on a T-Con, he or she may request a writ of habeas corpus. The individual will then be allowed to present a case in court, with the aid of a public defender, as to why he or she should not be on a T-Con and in the hospital.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]