Forced Hospitalization: After Psychiatric Exams


A judge can order a person to stay in the hospital against his will if two psychiatrists decide it is necessary because the person’s mental state makes him a danger to himself or to others. This is called court-authorized confinement.

When is this type of forced hospitalization used?

If two psychiatrists decide the person needs to stay in the hospital because his mental state makes him a danger to himself or others, the hospital can ask a judge from the Court of Quebec for permission to keep him in the hospital. This is sometimes called court-authorized confinement. 


To order this type of hospitalization, the judge must have serious reasons to believe the person is a danger to himself or others and needs to stay in the hospital. The danger must be: 

  • caused by the person’s mental state
  • real (clear and based on specific actions, words and attitudes)
  • likely (the risk of danger must be high)
  • about serious harm to someone
  • happening now or very soon

The person can speak to the judge and be represented in court by a lawyer. To find out more about the court process, read our article on challenging forced hospitalization

For help finding a lawyer, contact the Barreau du Québec’s referral service (website in French only).

You might be able to get a lawyer for free through legal aidTo apply for legal aid, go to the legal aid office close to your home.

How long can someone be kept at the hospital?

The judge decides how long people can be kept at the hospital against their will. Hospitals often ask for permission to keep people for 21 to 30 days. People can be released sooner if the doctor decides they are no longer a danger to themselves or others. If the hospital wants to keep a person for longer than the judge decided, it must ask for the judge’s permission again.