WHAT IS A DANGEROUSNESS EVALUATION?
Evaluations of dangerousness, or violence risk assessments, are intended to examine a variety of empirically-derived risk factors which research has shown to hold predictive validity for future violence. Depending on the jurisdiction, this violence may include violence toward the person or property of others and/or harm to self. Those who are deemed a risk for violence are often civilly committed.
In Arkansas, civil commitment is determined by ACA § 20-47-207(c). A person shall be eligible for involuntary admission if he or she is in such mental condition as a result of mental illness, disease, or disorder that he or she poses a clear and present danger to himself or herself or others;
(1) As used in this subsection, "a clear and present danger to himself or herself" is established by demonstrating that: (A) The person has inflicted serious bodily injury on himself or herself or has attempted suicide or serious self-injury, and there is a reasonable probability that such conduct will be repeated if admission is not ordered; or (B) The person has threatened to inflict serious bodily injury on himself or herself and there is a reasonable probability that such conduct will occur if admission is not ordered; or (C) The person's recent behavior or behavior history demonstrates that he or she so lacks the capacity to care for his or her own welfare that there is a reasonable probability of death, serious bodily injury, or serious physical or mental debilitation if admission is not ordered; and
(2) As used in this subsection, "a clear and present danger to others" is established by demonstrating that the person has inflicted, attempted to inflict, or threatened to inflict serious bodily harm on another, and there is a reasonable probability that such conduct will occur if admission is not ordered.
A number of psychological tools have been developed in order to assist psychologists in better predicting future dangerousness. These tools are most predictive when based on accurate and reliable information. Consequently, Expert Psychological Evaluations’ psychologists’ assessments of dangerousness go far beyond a clinical interview and psychometric testing. Detailed record review and collateral interviews, whenever available, are invaluable sources of information. In-depth analysis of the current literature on violence risk further informs the forensic opinions provided, and clear and understandable explanations of the risk of danger to self, others, and the property of others are offered. Recommendations, based on the specifically identified risk factors, for placement and supervision can be made. Special attention is also provided to protective factors and elements which will reduce the risk of engaging in future violent acts.
Relevant Case Law
for Dangerousness or Violence Risk
A civilly committed, non-dangerous patient cannot be held in a hospital involuntarily if there is a less restrictive treatment alternative available.
There are protected due process rights (beyond a reasonable doubt) for those facing civil commitment in psychiatric hospitals.
BAXTROM v. HEROLD
Equal protection (14th Amendment) is violated by the statutory procedure of civilly commiting a person after expiration of his penal sentence without jury review and a finding of dangerousness.
IN RE RICHARDSON
A trial court may authorize an outpatient's brief hospitalization in certain situations if the patient is detained only temporarily and the hospital complies with certain requirements.
ADDINGTON v. TEXAS
The minimum standard of proof to justify civil commitment is clear and convincing evidence.
PARHAM v. J.R.
Children hospitalized in psychiatric institutions are not entitled to the same procedural safeguards (adversarial hearing) as adults facing civil commitment.