Casey's Law


Who is Casey?

Casey Wethington died at 23 years old from a heroin overdose. Casey suffered from a disease that does not have to be fatal.

What is Casey’s Law?

Casey’s Law provides a means of intervening with someone who is unable to recognize his or her need for treatment due to their impairment. This law will allow parents, relatives, and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the person who has a substance use disorder.  This law provides for involuntary treatment.  Below are two informational videos that may assist you in better understanding the law itself and the process.

What are the criteria for involuntary treatment?

For the Court to order involuntary treatment, it must find that the person:

  1. The respondent suffers from alcohol or drug abuse;
  2. The respondent presents an imminent threat of danger to self, family or others as a result of alcohol or drug abuse, or there exists a substantial likelihood of such a threat of danger in the near future; and
  3. The respondent can reasonably benefit from treatment.  (KRS 222.431).

Does Involuntary Treatment Work?

Studies show that involuntary treatment can be just as successful as voluntary treatment. Most individuals who are substance abuse impaired receive Court-ordered treatment only after they have become arrested for a crime while under the influence of the substance. Drugs and crime often go hand in hand because people who are substance abuse impaired are forced by their disease to resort to any means necessary to procure their drug. Court-ordered treatment can be effective regardless of who initiates it.

Do the People With Substance Abuse Disorders Have to Want Help?

Denial and distorted thinking impedes their ability to make a rational decision. The “bottom” for many is death. Addiction is a progressive, life-threatening disease. The best hope of survival for a person who is substance abuse impaired is intervention.

Why Not Wait for Court Intervention?

Not all people who have a substance use disorder are arrested or, in the event that they are, may not receive the necessary treatment.

Addiction is a Disease… so why is it not treated like one?

Drug addiction is seen as a character flaw when in fact, addiction is a brain disease. Just like cancer, the disease of addiction has an array of treatments. One treatment does not fit every individual. Relapse or reoccurrence of the disease is possible just as it is with cancer. Addiction is not a choice. No one plans on becoming addicted. Addiction is a treatable illness and people can and do recover.

What Does Casey’s Law Provide?

This law provides hope to family and friends of someone who is suffering from the disease of addiction.

Steps in the Process

  • A petition is filed with the district court clerk by a spouse, relative, friend, or guardian of the substance abuse impaired person.

  • The court reviews the allegations in the petition and examines the petitioner under oath.

  • The court determines whether there is a probable cause to order treatment for the respondent.

  • If probable cause is established, the court orders the respondent to be evaluated, and a hearing is set within fourteen (14) days.

  • The respondent is notified of the date and purpose of the hearing.

  • The respondent is evaluated by two (2) qualified health professionals, at least one (1) of whom is a physician.

If the court finds the respondent should undergo treatment, the court shall order treatment from sixty (60) days or up to three hundred sixty (360) days, dependent upon the request in the petition and the result of the hearing.

How long will the process take?

The Respondent will not be put into treatment immediately.  Once the Petition is filed, the Court must first hold a hearing with the Petitioner.  That hearing will usually be scheduled within one or two days of filing.  After the first hearing, the Respondent must then be evaluated by a physician and a Qualified Mental Health Professional who will submit reports to the Court.  After those reports are received, a second hearing will be held within 14 days of the first.  Only after the Court has the second hearing can treatment be ordered. Therefore, the process usually takes about two weeks to complete.

What Happens If the Respondent Fails to Comply at Anytime During the Process?

Failure to comply may place the respondent in contempt of court.

Who Pays For the Treatment?

The petitioner is obligated to pay all costs incurred in the process, including treatment. HOWEVER, there are many free or low-cost inpatient treatment centers in Kentucky, and several grassroots organizations can help you navigate treatment options.

Who makes the Doctor Appointments?

The Petitioner must make the appointments with the doctor.  You must have the appointments made before the petition can be filed.

What forms does the doctor fill out?

The doctor and Qualified Health Professional will fill out reports sent to them (AOC-703A).   You can take these reports with you to the appointment or they can be sent by the court.  The reports must get into the Court’s file.

How do the forms get into the Court’s file? 

The reports from the health providers need to get into the Court’s file.  The health provider can send them directly to the Court or return them to the County Attorney’s Office who will file them with the Court.

What if the Respondent will not go to the appointments?

If you have tried to get the Respondent to go to the appointments and he or she will not voluntarily go, contact the County Attorney’s Office.  A summons will be issued to require the Respondent to go to the appointments.  If the Respondent still does not go, the Court will order the sheriff or other law enforcement to transport the Respondent.  The Petitioner is responsible for the costs of transport.

Why won’t the police just pick them up and take them to treatment?

The law does not permit the police to take a drug abuser into custody.  In fact, Casey’s Law prohibits putting drug abusers in jail simply for their abuse.

What if the Petitioner changes their mind about payment? 

The petitioner cannot change their mind or stop payment.  Once the process is started, it cannot be stopped without a Court Order.  If the Petitioner fails to follow through on their obligations, they can be exposed to a lawsuit for payment of costs or other court proceedings, potentially including contempt of court, which could lead to jail time.

Where Can I Find a Copy of Casey’s Law?

The law can be accessed in it’s entirety at Click on the “Legislative Resources” link and choose KRS 222.430 to 222.437.

How Can I Obtain a Copy of the Petition?

A copy of the petition can be obtained at the circuit clerk’s office by requesting Form #700A, the Verified Petition for Involuntary Treatment of Alcohol/Drug Abuse.

5 Steps to Break the Cycle of Addiction

1. File a petition (700A) for the judge to review. Petition is filed with the circuit court clerk by a loved one of the substance impaired person.

2. Arrange for the health evaluations (voluntary or court ordered if necessary). The court reviews the claim in the petition and examines the petitioner under oath.

3. Locate a treatment facility prior to attending a hearing. The court determines whether there is probable cause to order treatment for the person named in the petition.

4. Judge orders treatment. If the court finds that the person named in the petition should undergo treatment, the court shall order treatment from 60 days or up to 360 days, dependent on the request in the petition and the result of the hearing.

5. The cycle of addiction is broken.

If you have any questions, please contact our office at 606-679-4449.