Proceedings for Court-Ordered Mental Health Evaluation and Court-Ordered Mental Health Treatment

Judicial officers preside over proceedings for Court-Ordered Evaluation (“COE”) and Court-Ordered Treatment (“COT”) at Valleywise Behavioral Health Centers (Mesa, Phoenix, and Maryvale), Arizona State Hospital, and the downtown Phoenix court complex. These proceedings are governed by Chapter 5 of Title 36, Arizona Revised Statutes.

If you or someone you know is facing a behavioral health crisis, call 988 or the Central Arizona Crisis Line (serves Maricopa County), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 988, (602) 222-9444 or (800) 631-1314 (toll free) or (800) 327-9254 (TTY/TDD).

For a comprehensive list of local and national resources, or for information to help children and students, please visit the Maricopa County Public Health website.

What is a behavioral health crisis?

A behavioral health crisis occurs when a person’s actions, feelings, and/or behaviors put that person (the “proposed patient”) at risk of self-harm or harming others or prevents them from caring for themselves or functioning safely in the community. 


  • Using language, writing, or otherwise insinuating plans to harm others (e.g., physical violence) 
  • Using language, writing, or otherwise insinuating plans to harm oneself (e.g., excessive talk of death or suicide) 
  • Inability to complete activities of daily living (e.g., dressing, bathing, brushing teeth) 
  • Withdrawing from regular social situations/patterns 
  • Dramatic changes in mood, affect, or sleeping/eating patterns 
  • Participating in high-risk activities (e.g., reckless behavior, impulsivity) 

What is 988?

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7 support for suicidal, substance use, and/or a mental health crisis. Additional resources available at the SAMHSA webpage for detailed information and FAQs. As an alternative contact for Maricopa County, you may contact the Central Arizona Crisis Line at (602) 222-9444 or 1-800-631-1314.

What should I do if I am, or someone else is, facing a behavioral health crisis?

Behavioral Health Crisis Contacts

  • Central Arizona Crisis Line: (602) 222-9444 or 1-800-631-1314 
  • Text HOPE to 4HOPE (44673): Specific hours of availability Monday – Friday, 2:00pm – 10:00pm Saturday – Sunday, 8:00am – 2:00pm 
  • Maricopa County Warm Line (Non-Crisis): (602) 347-1100 
  • La Frontera-Empact Crisis Hotline: (480) 784-1500 
  • Teen Lifeline: (602) 248-8336 
  • Veterans’ Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (option 1) 
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial or Text 988 
  • Solari – Crisis Response Network: 1-800-631-1314 

Urgent Psychiatric Care Centers

Options for Legal Guardian of Someone in a Mental Health Crisis

  • Sign subject person into a voluntary treatment facility. 
  • Call a crisis facility for assistance if the ward refuses transportation. 
  • Complete an Application for Involuntary Evaluation if necessary. 

Application Process and Evaluation

Reviewing Applications

Applications are reviewed by a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. If the applicant is determined to be dangerous, detention and evaluation by local law enforcement is possible. During 24-hour evaluation, the provider decides on voluntary assessment a less-restrictive treatment or will Petition for Court-Ordered Evaluation.

Court-Ordered Evaluation

If emergency admission criteria are not met, referral to a community crisis team is possible. To file a petition, present the petition to Superior Court for a detention order. For the detention order, local law enforcement will serve and detain the proposed patient.

Evaluation and Treatment

Once the petition is filed, there will be a 72-hour evaluation period. Providers will decide if voluntary sign-in, release, or further evaluation is needed. Transferring to a Valleywise Behavior Health Center may also be possible.

Petition for Court-Ordered Treatment

Once a petition for Court-Ordered Treatment is filed, a hearing is scheduled within 4-6 business days. The petitioner must demonstrate evidence for the necessity of treatment. The court will determine need for treatment, not the specific type of treatment.

Court-Ordered Treatment

Court-Ordered Treatment may last up to 365 days with possible renewal. The treatment settings may combine inpatient and outpatient treatment. Non-compliance with treatment may result in possible amendment to return to inpatient treatment.

Additional Information

Order Expiration or Termination

There are various conditions for termination or renewal.

Family Information Access

Family Information Access is dependent on a patient's Release of Information (ROI).


Grievances can be filed with the outpatient provider or Regional Behavioral Health Authority.


NAMI Arizona: or (480) 994-4407 

Office of Human Rights (OHR): (602) 364-4585 or (800) 421-2124 

Valleywise Behavioral Health Center Locations

Mental Health Department Leadership

Hon. Dean M. Fink

Presiding Judge

Brian Bledsoe

Department Administrator

Contact Mental Health Department