What is Casey’s Law?

What Is Casey's Law? header graphic

Casey’s Law allows family members in Kentucky and Ohio to file paperwork with a local court to force someone to go to addiction treatment when that person is unable to recognize their need for help. If they run or refuse, they can go to jail until they agree, but it doesn’t create a criminal record.

It gives loved ones a clear path to intervene for involuntary addiction treatment. The state law was enacted in 2004, advocated by a mom after her son died of a heroin overdose.

Where does Casey’s Law apply?

Right now Casey’s Law is only on the books in Kentucky and Ohio, but there are plans of expanding the program to other states like Georgia and West Virginia. The process differs slightly from state to state, and sometimes even between counties – but the steps you need to take are generally the same.

Enacting Casey’s Law doesn’t necessarily mean that your loved one needs to get treatment in your immediate area or even your state. The court allows you to choose the treatment center. Other states have their own versions of involuntary treatment laws (like the Marchman Act in Florida) that allow loved ones to petition for mandatory drug and alcohol treatment.

How is Casey’s Law Invoked?

Casey’s Law can be invoked by the parents, relatives or friends of someone who is unable to realize their dire need for addiction treatment. You may be overwhelmed by the process, but just take it step-by-step. The law was made specifically for family members like you and it can save your loved one’s life.

Here’s what you need to do if you live in Kentucky:

  1. Select your county from the drop-down on the Kentucky Government website to find the address, hours and phone number of your circuit court.
  2. Select a treatment provider. Understand the cost and logistics of your selection so they are ready to go when court-ordered.
  3. Make appointments for your loved one to be evaluated by two qualified professionals within 1-10 days of when you turn in the petition. These appointments need to be listed on the petition so their attendance can be courted ordered. (JourneyPure locations are able to accommodate both evaluations back-to-back).
  4. File this petition (PDF) with your circuit clerk.
  5. The petition is reviewed by the court, including your “under oath” statement, and determines if there is probable cause to continue the process.
  6. If probable cause is established, the court orders the respondent to be evaluated and a hearing is set within fourteen days.
  7. The respondent is notified of the date and purpose of the hearing.
  8. Both evaluation appointments should be attended and submitted to the court at least 24 hours before the hearing. (If refused, their lack of attendance will be part of the judge’s consideration to mandate treatment).
  9. If the court finds the respondent should undergo treatment, the court shall order treatment from 60 days to 360 days, depending upon the request in the petition and the result of the hearing.

Here’s what you need to do if you live in Ohio:

  1. Find your county’s probate court on this list from the Ohio Government website. Their address, hours and phone number will be posted on the county court website.
  2. Select a treatment provider. Understand the cost and logistics of your selection so they are ready to go when court-ordered.
  3. Make an appointment for your loved one to be evaluated by a qualified professional within two days of when you turn in the petition. This appointment must be listed on the petition so their attendance can be courted ordered. (JourneyPure locations can accommodate your loved one’s evaluation.
  4. Fill out the petition and file it with your probate clerk.
  5. The petition is reviewed by the court, including your “under oath” statement, and determines if there is probable cause to continue the process.
  6. If probable cause is established, the court orders the respondent to be evaluated and a hearing is set within seven days.
  7. The respondent is notified of the date and purpose of the hearing.
  8. The evaluation appointment should be attended and submitted to the court at least 24 hours before the hearing. (If refused, their lack of attendance will be part of the judge’s consideration to mandate treatment).
  9. If the court finds the respondent should undergo treatment, the court shall order treatment from 60 days to 360 days, depending upon the request in the petition and the result of the hearing.

What is the timeline for Casey’s Law?

A hearing is scheduled within 14 days of filing the paperwork. The court’s decision to mandate treatment happens at the hearing. You should be ready to transport them immediately to the facility.

The judge will decide how long treatment is mandated on a case-by-case basis. Filing for 360 days could advantageous because if they leave treatment or relapse within that time frame, the mandate continues to apply. Treatment can include detox, inpatient rehab and outpatient therapy. (It doesn’t mean a year in a hospital. Rehabs like JourneyPure are more like a campus retreat than a hospital).

What happens if they refuse to follow Casey’s Law?

Failure to comply will place your loved one in contempt of court, but will NOT go on their criminal record. The point is to support their future, not make it harder. The court will hold them in jail until they commit to treatment. If they leave treatment before they complete the program, law enforcement can track them down and them back to treatment.

You are allowed to file for Casey’s Law more than once. If the individual relapses and again becomes a threat to their own safety, you can re-file the petition.

90% of parents of addicts think the addiction is their fault. This is 100% untrue.

Who pays for court-ordered treatment?

You are responsible for the cost of treatment, but most counties allow you to use their insurance. You can call treatment facilities to confirm your cost.

(Our rehab location in Bowling Green, Kentucky accepts people from across the state and is in-network with almost all insurances. If cost is an issue or the waiting list is too long, we can help you find somewhere else).

Are there any other fees to file Casey’s Law?

Because you have to file paperwork through the court, there may be an administrative fee. The fee to file for Casey’s Law varies depending on the county, but it is usually relatively low (especially compared to the cost of addiction). These laws are designed to help families, not to overwhelm them with legal fees.

While you aren’t required to have a lawyer represent you, you can hire one to help you fill out the paperwork and file the petition. The filer will be responsible for these legal fees. From there, a state-appointed prosecutor will represent you in front of the judge.

Should I tell them that I’m filing for Casey’s Law?

It usually makes things easier if you don’t inform them you filing until the warrant is served. That way they don’t run. Hiding away in addiction is dangerous. You don’t have to inform them of the appointments you schedule either. They will be included on the warrant.

What should I include in my petition for Casey’s Law?

Make sure you write down all the instances that you can recall or have heard from others that makes your loved one seem unfit to make their own decisions. You can add additional pages for multiple stories from you and others. You need to prove they are a danger to themselves (or others) because of their substance abuse. This will give the judge probable cause to order treatment.

Caseys Law Infographic - Evidence

What’s the story behind Casey’s Law?

Matthew “Casey” Wethington went from an energetic boy to an unrecognizable addict who overdosed on heroin in his early twenties.

Casey was from a middle-class, loving family. He enjoyed video games, baseball cards and skateboarding until he was exposed to drugs around age 14. As everyone affected by addiction knows, no one tries drugs with the intent of getting addicted. But, that’s exactly what happened.

Drugs stunted his mental growth and became the only thing Casey could stay focused on. No teenager is equipped to manage something as insurmountable as addiction on their own, yet he refused help.

The Story of Casey's Law

Casey is certainly not the only young person with a story like this, which is why his parents fought for the development and implementation of Casey’s Law. Since the law was enacted in 2004, Casey’s mother Charlotte established PEACE, a support group designed for people who have lost loved ones to the disease of addiction. She also hosts a TV show where she educates the public about addiction once a month. And, to prevent opioid overdose, Charlotte and her husband use Casey’s old car to supply Narcan across Northern Kentucky.

Does involuntary treatment work?

It is a myth that involuntary treatment is ineffective. Over the years, I’ve treated many people who were resistant to getting help at first but ended up coming around during treatment. Many of them are successfully managing their addiction and leading successful, happy, sober lives to this day. It isn’t as simple as saying “If they don’t want it to get sober, don’t bother with treatment.” People start the process at different stages of acceptance and willingness. While it may seem harsh, these laws can give addicts and alcoholics a fighting chance when they are no longer capable of making decisions for themselves.

That said, involuntary drug and alcohol treatment should only be used as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted and the individual is a direct threat to their health. When family members ask me if they should enact Casey’s Law, I urge them to make sure they have already taken the following measures:

  • Approach your loved one, and with respect and love, ask them to go to treatment.
  • Establish firm boundaries and stick to them. For example – “You are not allowed to live in my house while you are getting high.”
  • Hold an intervention with family members and friends. If possible, get a licensed interventionist to lead the meeting.

Many people agree to treatment after an open and honest conversation with their loved ones. Even if you’ve tried to talk to them before, it’s worth it to organize an official intervention with family and friends. Doing it that way could help them feel less angry and better understand you’re coming at them with love. Casey’s law should be used only after an intervention fails, not as a way to avoid the conversation.

What now?

The first steps with Casey’s Law are to find your court and choose a treatment center. In case you’re interested, JourneyPure has an alcohol and drug rehab center in Kentucky. Regardless of your county, people come from across the state to get treatment here using Casey’s Law.

Sources

KY.gov: “StopOverdoses, Kentucky takes action to reverse opiate overdoses.”
CaseysLaw.org: “About.”
Kentucky Court of Justice: “Circuit Court Clerks.”
Kentucky Court of Justice: “Form 700A”

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