Purple Book

The Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act is part of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC), and provides guidelines for handling involuntary civil commitment of individuals to mental health institutions in the State of California. It was co-authored by California State Assemblyman Frank Lanterman, California State Senators Nicholas C. Petris and Alan Short, signed into law in 1967 by Governor Ronald Reagan, and went into full effect on July 1, 1972. The act set the precedent for modern mental health commitment procedures in the United States.


The legislative intent of the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act is to:

  • End the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, and chronic alcoholism, and to eliminate legal disabilities.
  • Provide prompt evaluation and treatment of persons with mental health disorders or impaired by chronic alcoholism
  • Guarantee and protect public safety
  • Safeguard individual rights through judicial review
  • Provide individualized treatment, supervision, and placement services by a conservatorship program for persons who are gravely disabled
  • 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
  • Protect persons with mental health disorders and developmental disabilities from criminal acts


You will complete LPS training in order to be certified to administer legal holds to detain individuals involuntarily as appropriate. In fellowship, we will predominantly write “5585” 72 hour holds (for minors) (also known as 5150) based on probable cause of 1) danger to self (DTS, due to threats or actions that endanger self due to a mental disorder), 2) danger to others (DTO, due to serious intent and likelihood of patient causing bodily harm to someone else due to a mental disorder), or 3) grave disability (GD; in a minor, unable to use food, clothing or shelter, even when provided by others).


Unlike with adults, children involuntarily detained under a 5585 do not have the right to a probable cause (PC) hearing in the hospital, which involves a patient advocate, hearing officer, and psychiatric treatment facility representative. Nor do they participate in Riese petitions (determination of capacity to refuse medication), as parents and legal guardians or the courts make medication determinations for children. However children who are 14 – 17 years of age may contest their voluntary admission through several procedures, including an independent clinical review, Roger S procedure (California precedent for 14 yr old being released from voluntary hospitalization), or advice by counsel based on the facility and the “parental” entity of the child. If a hearing is scheduled for any of your patients while on inpatient, you will be notified by the ward clerk as to when the hearing will take place.


Note: If a patient is placed on a 5250 (14-day hold) for any of the above criteria, then a PC hearing WILL be conducted in the hospital and involve the aforementioned individuals above. During COVID, these meetings have been taking place via WebEx. While on CL/ER, the ER social work staff can alert you as to when these hearings will take place.


The LPS training manual and other useful resources can be found here: http://file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/dmh/1060569_LPS_Training_Manual.pdf https://www.sfdph.org/dph/files/CBHSdocs/Involuntary_Detention_Manual_April2020.pdf