protective custody

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Protective custody is the confinement, voluntary or involuntary, of a person who government authorities believe will be threatened without such confinement. This may be done to protect a child, a witness, or a mentally ill individual. For example, Section 1024 of the New York Family Court Act requires peace officers or government social workers to “take all necessary measures to protect a child's life or health including, when appropriate, taking or keeping a child in protective custody.” For witness protection, New York Corrections and Community Supervision Directive no. 4948 allows for protective custody of inmates who are serving as witnesses for trial proceedings. For an example of protective custody of mentally ill patients, Texas Health and Safety Code § 574.022 allows a judge or magistrate to issue a protective custody order when they determine: “(1)  that a physician has stated the physician's opinion and the detailed reasons for the physician's opinion that the proposed patient is a person with mental illness; and (2)  the proposed patient presents a substantial risk of serious harm to the proposed patient or others if not immediately restrained pending the hearing.”

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]