WHAT IS KENDRA’S LAW?
Kendra’s Law or New York’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) allows courts to order treatment for certain people with mental illness who in view of their treatment history and present circumstances are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision.
There are criteria to determine who can be affected by AOT. They include:
- a person must be at least 18 years old and have a mental illness, and
- be unlikely to survive in the community based on a clinical determination and have a history of non-compliance with treatment which has led to either 2 hospitalizations for mental illness in the preceding 3 years, or resulted in at least 1 act of violence toward themselves or others, or has threatened seriously physical harm to themselves or others within the preceding 4 years, and
- is unlikely to accept treatment recommended in a treatment plan, and
- is in need of AOT to avoid a relapse or deterioration that would likely result in serious harm to themselves or others, and
- is likely to benefit from AOT.
Certain procedures must be followed to obtain a court order for AOT. A petition must be filed with the County or Supreme Court for the county where the person alleged to be in need of AOT resides or is believed to reside. Only certain people can file a petition. They include a parent, spouse, adult sibling or adult child of the person, an adult roommate, director of a hospital in which the person has had care, director of an organization, agency or home in which the person resides, a treating or supervising psychiatrist, the Nassau Commissioner for the Department of Mental Health or a parole or probation officer who is supervising the person.
Once a petition has been filed with the court which states facts showing why the person meets the criteria for an AOT and is accompanied by the affidavit of an examining physician, notice must be given to several parties including the person who is the subject of the petition, Mental Hygiene Legal Service, any health care agent appointed by the person in a health care proxy and the Commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Mental Health.
The court is then required to set a hearing date no more than 3 days after the court receives the petition. At the hearing, the court will hear testimony from the physician who filed the affidavit, and may also consider the testimony of the petitioner and the subject of the petition. If the court determines the criteria for an AOT are met and there is a treatment plan filed with the court, an order for treatment is issued. If the court concludes all criteria for AOT are not met, the petition will be dismissed.
If the assisted outpatient fails to comply with the court order, transportation can be arranged by the police, mobile crisis team or ambulance to bring the person to the hospital where they can be held up to 72 hours for observation and treatment and to allow a physician to determine if the person meets the standard of involuntary hospitalization.
The initial court order is effective for up to 6 months from the date of the order but it can be extended for successive periods of up to one year each. Any application to extend AOT, however, must show that the person continues to meet all the AOT criteria.
There is more information available about AOT/Kendra’s Law. Sites you can visit include the State Office of Mental Health at