Is Amanda Bynes Headed for Another 1 Year Conservatorship?

You can sense it might be coming.

After doing so well for the past year, Amanda Bynes behavior seemed to be deteriorating after her parent’s 1 year conservatorship ended in September:

  • She told reporters she was engaged and that she needed a “tremendous amount of facial surgery.”
  • She was arrested for DUI in California on September 28.
  • A few days later she was seen in Manhattan with a large bandage on her face.
  • She was banned by NY department store Barneys after shoplifting suspicions were raised.
  • She tweeted allegations of sexual assault by her father, which she then retracted saying:

amanda tweet

It was this last episode that lead her distraught parents, Lynn and Rick Bynes, and their attorney to hatch a plan to bring Amanda back to California for an involuntary hold. Using Brittany Spear‘s friend Sam Lufti to orchestrate Amanda’s flight to LA. Thinking she was to going to see a lawyer in order to sue her parents, Bynes was instead taken to a psychiatric facility where she was placed a 5150 psychiatric hold (see below). The 72-hour hold was extended to two weeks, and doctors are now seeking a LPS hold. This is different than the conservatorship that her parents had in that doctors would be able to keep her confined and medicated for up to one year.

Amanda is apparently quite upset with her parents and wants nothing more to do with them. On the other hand, her parents are quite relieved and “happy that she is safe.”

Amanda’s behavior is similar to the behavior she was exhibiting over a year ago when she first had to be hospitalized.

What are these different psychiatric holds?

In California, there are a number of laws which deal with the  involuntary civil commitment to a mental health institution:

A 5150 psychiatric hold, commonly known as a “72 hour hold” allows for a  “period of 72 hours for persons alleged to meet the legal criteria of being a danger to self or others or gravely disabled due to a mental disorder.”

A 5250 hold, commonly known as a “14 day hold,” allows an additional 14 days for evaluation and treatment.

An LPS hold is based on the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act ( the California legislators who wrote the California Mental Health Act of 1967). The Act went into full effect on July 1, 1972, citing 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.

An LPS conservatorship gives legal authority to one adult (called a conservator) to make certain decisions for a seriously mentally ill person (called a conservatee) who is unable to take care of him/ herself.

If asked, the Court can give LPS conservator the duty to take care of and protect the seriously mentally ill person (conservator of the person) and also the power to handle the financial matters of the seriously mentally ill person (conservator of the estate). The conservator can give consent to mental health treatment, even if the conservatee objects. S/he can legally agree to the use of psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs (but the conservatee may physically refuse to take them).

Also, the conservator can agree to place the mentally ill person in a locked facility if a psychiatrist says it is needed and the hospital agrees to take the person, whether or not the conservatee agrees. The conservator can also decide where the mentally ill person will live when s/he is not in a locked psychiatric facility.

An LPS conservatorship only lasts one year. Renewal is possible, but a new petition is required at least 2-3 months before the current conservatorship expires.

The most common illnesses are serious, biological brain disorders, like:

Source: Superior Court of California

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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