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Office of Justice Programs

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Civil Commitment


About civil commitment

The term “civil commitment" refers to a civil court process where a person is voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a treatment facility. Many civil commitments are to the Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner for placement in an appropriate state operated facility.

Persons who have committed crimes of violence can be civilly committed in Minnesota under specific statutes and in proceedings separate from the criminal case. Those commitments include persons who have a mental illness and are dangerous to the public, have a sexual psychopathic personality, or are a sexually dangerous person.

The county attorney's office in the county where the criminal incident took place may choose to file a petition with the court to civilly commit the individual who has committed the crime. There is a specific court process that must take place. At the civil commitment hearing, if the court finds that the individual meets the statutory requirements, he or she is committed to an appropriate treatment setting, which may be under the authority of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

In those situations where a defendant has been found incompetent to participate in the criminal proceeding and is not currently under civil commitment, the defendant must undergo screening and the prosecutor is required to consider whether a civil commitment petition should be filed.

If a defendant is found not guilty by reason of mental illness or cognitive impairment, a petition for civil commitment for the defendant must be filed by the prosecutor in the county in which the acquittal took place.

Victim rights related to civil commitment

Victims have rights to notification when the petition for civil commitment is filed and after the person has been civilly committed.

Petition for civil commitment and outcome

A county attorney who files a civil commitment petition must make a reasonable effort to provide prompt notice of the filing to any victim of the underlying crime that forms the basis for the civil commitment or was listed as a victim in the petition of commitment.

Following the civil commitment proceedings, the county attorney must provide notice of the outcome of that petition to the victim. If the person has been civilly committed, the prosecutor must also notify the victim of the process for requesting notification of a change in status for the committed person from the treating facility.

Change in status while under the authority of a treatment facility

Victims who wish to receive notification of a change in status must make a written request to the treatment facility where the person is committed. When considering a change in status of the person under civil commitment, the head of the facility must notify the victim that the person may be discharged or released, and that the victim has a right to submit a written statement regarding the decision. To the extent possible, the notice to the victim must be provided at least 14 days before any special review board hearing or before a determination on a pass plan.

A change in status includes when the person is being transferred, provisionally discharged, granted pass-eligible status, granted a pass plan, or otherwise temporarily or permanently released from a state-operated treatment facility.

Requesting notification

Petition for civil commitment: Victims are encouraged to let the prosecutor know they wish to be notified of a petition for civil commitment and its outcome. While not required, submitting a written request to the county attorney where the offender was convicted or the civil commitment was filed will ensure that the victim's wishes about notification are communicated.

Change in status after civilly committed: Victims who wish to receive notifications about the change of status of a person who has been civilly committed must make a written request to the head of the treatment facility, including Department of Human Services facilities, (or their designee) where the offender is confined.

Here is the contact information for the two Department of Human Services facilities primarily treating persons committed for being a person who has a mental illness and is dangerous to the public, sexually dangerous, or having a sexual psychopathic personality:

Minnesota Sex Offender Program – Moose Lake

MSOP Admissions Coordinator

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program

1111 Highway 73, Moose Lake, MN 55767

For questions, contact Darien Bottila

 (218) 565-6230  |  Darien.R.Bottila@state.mn.us

DHS website

 Forensic Services Program – St. Peter

Patricia Nourie

100 Freeman Drive, ​St. Peter, MN 56082

For questions, call: 507-985-2085

Victims making a request for notification will be asked to provide their name and contact information, the committed individual's name, and information about the crime.

The information provided by the victim is private, and the request for notification will not be shared with the committed individual or accessible by the public. Click here for sample letter to request 

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about civil commitment.