(Selected sections related to firearms)
C. 123 § 35 Commitment of Alcoholics and Substance Abusers
For the purposes of this section the following terms shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:
“Alcohol use disorder”, the chronic or habitual consumption of alcoholic beverages by a person to the extent that (1) such use substantially injures the person’s health or substantially interferes with the person’s social or economic functioning, or (2) the person has lost the power of self-control over the use of such beverages.
“Facility”, a public or private facility that provides care and treatment for a person with an alcohol or substance use disorder.
“Substance use disorder”, the chronic or habitual consumption or ingestion of controlled substances or intentional inhalation of toxic vapors by a person to the extent that: (i) such use substantially injures the person’s health or substantially interferes with the person’s social or economic functioning; or (ii) the person has lost the power of self-control over the use of such controlled substances or toxic vapors.
Any police officer, physician, spouse, blood relative, guardian or court official may petition in writing any district court or any division of the juvenile court department for an order of commitment of a person whom he has reason to believe has an alcohol or substance use disorder. Upon receipt of a petition for an order of commitment of a person and any sworn statements the court may request from the petitioner, the court shall immediately schedule a hearing on the petition and shall cause a summons and a copy of the application to be served upon the person in the manner provided by section twenty-five of chapter two hundred and seventy-six. In the event of the person’s failure to appear at the time summoned, the court may issue a warrant for the person’s arrest.
Upon presentation of such a petition, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that such person will not appear and that any further delay in the proceedings would present an immediate danger to the physical well-being of the respondent, said court may issue a warrant for the apprehension and appearance of such person before it. No arrest shall be made on such warrant unless the person may be presented immediately before a judge of the district court. The person shall have the right to be represented by legal counsel and may present independent expert or other testimony. If the court finds the person indigent, it shall immediately appoint counsel. The court shall order examination by a qualified physician, a qualified psychologist or a qualified social worker.
If, after a hearing which shall include expert testimony and may include other evidence, the court finds that such person is an individual with an alcohol or substance use disorder and there is a likelihood of serious harm as a result of the person’s alcohol or substance use disorder, the court may order such person to be committed for a period not to exceed 90 days to a facility designated by the department of public health, followed by the availability of case management services provided by the department of public health for up to 1 year; provided, that a review of the necessity of the commitment shall take place by the superintendent on days 30, 45, 60 and 75 as long as the commitment continues. A person so committed may be released prior to the expiration of the period of commitment upon written determination by the superintendent of the facility that release of that person will not result in a likelihood of serious harm. Such commitment shall be for the purpose of inpatient care for the treatment of an alcohol or substance use disorder in a facility licensed or approved by the department of public health or the department of mental health. Subsequent to the issuance of a commitment order, the superintendent of a facility may authorize the transfer of a patient to a different facility for continuing treatment; provided, that the superintendent shall provide notification of the transfer to the committing court.
If the department of public health informs the court that there are no suitable facilities available for treatment licensed or approved by the department of public health or the department of mental health, or if the court makes a specific finding that the only appropriate setting for treatment for the person is a secure facility,
Law Enforcement Guide to Firearms Law 10th Edition then the person may be committed to: (i) a secure facility for women approved by the department of public health or the department of mental health, if a female; or (ii) the Massachusetts correctional institution at Bridgewater, if a male; provided, however, that any person so committed shall be housed and treated separately from persons currently serving a criminal sentence. The person shall, upon release, be encouraged to consent to further treatment and shall be allowed voluntarily to remain in the facility for such purpose. The department of public health shall maintain a roster of public and private facilities available, together with the number of beds currently available and the level of security at each facility, for the care and treatment of alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder and shall make the roster available to the trial court.
Nothing in this section shall preclude a facility, including the Massachusetts correctional institution at Bridgewater, from treating persons on a voluntary basis.
The court, in its order, shall specify whether such commitment is based upon a finding that the person is a person with an alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, or both. The court, upon ordering the commitment of a person found to be a person with an alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder pursuant to this section, shall transmit the person’s name and nonclinical identifying information, including the person’s social security number and date of birth, to the department of criminal justice information services. The court shall notify the person that such person is prohibited from being issued a firearm identification card pursuant to section 129B of chapter 140 or a license to carry pursuant to sections 131 and 131F of said chapter 140 unless a petition for relief pursuant to this section is subsequently granted.
After 5 years from the date of commitment, a person found to be a person with an alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder and committed pursuant to this section may file a petition for relief with the court that ordered the commitment requesting that the court restore the person’s ability to possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun. The court may grant the relief sought in accordance with the principles of due process if the circumstances regarding the person’s disqualifying condition and the person’s record and reputation are determined to be such that: (i) the person is not likely to act in a manner that is dangerous to public safety; and (ii) the granting of relief would not be contrary to the public interest. In making the determination, the court may consider evidence from a licensed physician or clinical psychologist that the person is no longer suffering from the disease or condition that caused the disability or that the disease or condition has been successfully treated for a period of 3 consecutive years.
If the court grants a petition for relief pursuant to this section, the clerk shall provide notice immediately by forwarding a certified copy of the order for relief to the department of criminal justice information services, who shall transmit the order, pursuant to paragraph (h) of section 167A of chapter 6, to the attorney general of the United States to be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
A person whose petition for relief is denied may appeal to the appellate division of the district court for a de novo review of the denial.