Court-Ordered Evaluation and Court-Ordered Treatment

What is Court-ordered Evaluation and Court-ordered Treatment in Arizona?

Court-ordered evaluation (COE) and court-ordered treatment (COT) are designed to help people who are unwilling to or incapable/unable of providing consent to receive behavioral health services and who meet legal criteria for the State of Arizona to step in and compel (mandate or order) them to receive treatment.

In Arizona, COE/COT addresses the needs of individuals who meet one or more of the following criteria according to Title 36 of the Arizona Revised Statutes:

  • The individual is a Danger To Self (DTS) and/or,
  • The individual is a Danger To Others (DTO) and/or
  • The individual is identified as being Persistently or Acutely Disabled (PAD) and/or,
  • The individual is identified as being Gravely Disabled (GD).

Court-ordered Evaluation (COE)

In Arizona, COE is a process in which two behavioral health medical professionals each complete a detailed analysis of an individual identified as potentially meeting one or more of the four criteria listed above: DTS, DTO, PAD, or GD.

The court-ordered evaluation may include firsthand (observed by the professional completing the evaluation) or remote or secondary observations from others (by family, friends, social or community supports, or other treatment providers) that describe, in detail, the individual’s:

  • Identity (name, age, address),
  • Biography (personal and/or work history),
  • Medical and psychological history (current or past health and mental health diagnoses), and
  • Social conditions or stressors (grief, divorce, change in living situation).

A court-ordered evaluation is required to determine the severity of a specific mental or behavioral health concern and to determine an individual’s capacity to adequate function and care for themselves. A COE is accomplished while the individual being assessed is held in a behavioral health facility. The individual may be held for up to 72 hours in order to complete the evaluation and ensure the individual’s safety.

If it is determined that the individual meets one of the four criteria for court-ordered treatment, the medical professionals who completed the evaluation will submit their findings to the superior (county) court where the individual resides or where they received the evaluation. A judge will hear the case and determine whether the individual meets the criteria to be ordered into treatment.

Court-ordered Treatment (COT)

In Arizona, COT is behavioral or mental health treatment that is ordered by a superior (county) court according to the Arizona Revised Statute Title 36 processes.

An individual can be ordered by the court to undergo mental health treatment if, because of a mental disorder, the individual is determined to be a danger to themselves, a danger to others, is persistently or acutely disabled, or is gravely disabled.

In Arizona, a mental disorder is defined as: a substantial disorder of the person’s emotional processes, thought, cognition, or memory. Individuals living with substance abuse disorders, intellectual/developmental disabilities, or disorders that are a result of lifelong and deeply ingrained antisocial behavior patterns are not eligible for COT, unless these behavior patterns are the result of a different mental disorder that meets the legal criteria according to the statute.

COE/COT is NOT:

  • Intended to treat substance abuse disorders,
  • To be used as a form of punishment or legal penalty, nor
  • To be used as a means of coercion in a court of law.

COT should only be used where the treatment protocol or best practice to address an individual's mental or behavioral health condition is something the court can compel an individual to do (example: take prescribed medication)

How to Start the COE/COT Process

There are two approaches and methods of starting the process to have someone assessed for COE/COT.

Emergent approach Non-Emergent approach
Used when the person in question presents as an immediate danger to self (DTS) or a danger to others (DTO). Used when the person will experience eminent harm if left untreated, but they are not in danger or causing anyone to be in danger right now, today.


If you believe an individual is in immediate need of assistance due to being a danger to themself or others, call 911, 988, or a local crisis hotline in your county.

If you believe the situation is not immediately urgent but you would like to start the process of ‘Pre-petition Screening’ to see if a person is appropriate for a Court-ordered Evaluation (COE), contact your local/county screening provider. See a list of health plans by geographic service area that can assist you with the paperwork and start the process of evaluation.

Want to learn more? Watch a one-hour training video about COE/COT or see this presentation.