The Meaning of 5150: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of 5150? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the police code 5150, including its definition, usage, and more!

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What does the number 5150 mean?

According to FERC, a 5150 is a police code number that refers to a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization. This is considered an involuntary hold and refers to the number of the section of the Welfare and Institutions Code which allows a person with a mental challenge to be involuntarily detained. While this does not necessarily mean that the person will be held for the full 72 hours, it means that the psychiatric hospital has the right to do so if necessary. 

In order to be held against one’s will in a psychiatric facility, they must either be a person who is a danger to others, a danger to themselves, or gravely disables as a result of mental illness. This means that the person is unable to provide for their own food, clothing or shelter as the result of a mental challenge. 

The 5150 is related to the 5250, which is a 14 day extension of an involuntary psychiatric hold. When a patient reaches the end of a 5150, if they still meet one of the three above criteria, the attending psychiatrist will file a 5250. The client must receive a copy of the certification by law. The client is also entitled to a certification review hearing. This informal automatic hearing has a Rights Advocate from the Patients’ Rights Advocacy office representing the client .The client can also request a Writ of Habeas Corpus hearing at any time in order to contest being held in front of a judge.

This mental health evaluation at the end of a 5150 determined whether a person will be held in the designated facility to keep themselves and others out of harm’s way. 5150 comes from Article 1, Section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, which was first signed into law in 1967. There must be probable cause for a person to be admitted into the custody of mental health professionals for crisis intervention. This involuntary detention is not a criminal arrest, it is an inpatient placement to receive help from a professional person in mental health services to assist with the person’s condition. They can approach the person in charge of the facility or a member of the attending staff to see if they can stay on a voluntary basis if they choose to.  Eddie Van Halen also wrote an album called 5150 which was named after the psychiatric hold.

A person also has other options when it comes to the result of a mental health disorder. People take into consideration the danger of imminent harm when they call in a 5150. A mental health director at the admitting facility might take away personal items. One can also turn to outpatient services, members of a mobile crisis team, a conservator or conservatorship, a phone call with a responsible relative, and more. Someone might call in a 72-hour hold if they have a hear of suicide, abuse of pills, a deadly weapon, or abuse of firearms. The mental health facility will be able to assist with the prohibitions and grave disability as a result of a mental disorder. They will meet a patient’s basic personal needs, protect their personal safety and prevent bodily harm, maintain the elements of life, prevent criminal acts, and act with consent. The professional personnel like a therapist will create a specific plan to meet a client’s basic needs after the involuntary commitment is over.

What are other police code numbers?

There are many different police code numbers. These are listed below from Stanford. How many do you know?

  •  23112 Throwing garbage on highway
  •  207 Kidnap
  •  647f Drunk in public
  •  270 Child neglect/failing to pay the support payments
  •  266i Pandering
  •  262 Rape of spouse
  •  10852 Malicious mischief to a vehicle
  •  288a Oral copulation
  •  22348 Maximum speed law – 55 MPH
  •  146a Impersonating a peace officer
  •  4532 Escape (also 32 PC)
  •  67 Offer a bribe to executive officer
  •  597 Killing or abusing animals
  •  22500e Vehicle blocking a driveway
  •  402b Abandoned refrigerator
  •  11358 Cultivation
  •  261 Rape
  •  20001 Hit and run – injury or death
  •  484g Illegal use of a credit card
  •  537e Article with serial number removed
  •  11351 Possession for sales relating to heroin, cocaine, peyote, mescaline, and THC
  •  192.2 Involuntary manslaughter
  •  20002 Hit and run – property damage
  •  286 Sodomy
  •  11359 Possession for sales
  •  137(a) Offer bribe to influence testimony
  •  266h Pimping
  •  594 Vandalism
  •  32 Accessory to a felony
  •  476a Insufficient funds (checks)
  •  12020 Possession of a deadly weapon
  •  23152 Drunk driving
  •  311.2b Possessing obscene matter depicting a minor
  •  496 Receiving stolen property
  •  271 Child abandonment – under 14
  •  484f Forged credit card
  •  503 Embezzlement
  •  23110 Throwing articles at a vehicle
  •  470 Forgery
  •  243a Battery against a citizen
  •  285 Incest
  •  148.1 False report of a bomb
  •  459 Burglary
  •  647b Prostitution
  •  245 Assault with a deadly weapon
  •  278 Child abduction from parent or guardian
  •  373 Public nuisance misdemeanors (spitting in public
  •  245b Assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer
  •  647a Annoy/molest child
  •  487 Grand Theft ($400+)
  •  602L Trespass
  •  12677 Fireworks
  •  11368 Forged prescription
  •  192.3 Vehicular manslaughter
  •  603 Trespass with damage
  •  261.5 Rape – under 18 years of age
  •  150 Refuse to aid an officer
  •  11357c Possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana
  •  240 *Assault
  •  places, etc.)
  •  242 *Battery
  •  246 Shooting at an inhabited dwelling or vehicle
  •  273d Corporal injury upon child
  •  11357a Possession of hashish
  •  12031 Possession of a loaded firearm
  •  415 Disturbing the peace (be specific)
  •  118 Perjury
  •  330 Gambling
  •  290 Sex registration
  •  22350 Basic speed law – unsafe speed
  •  209b Kidnaping for robbery
  •  240-242 *Assault and Battery
  •  148.5 False report of a crime
  •  653m Harassment by phone (obscene call)
  •  148 Interfering with an officer
  •  209a Kidnaping for ransom/extortion
  •  5170 Unable to care for self
  •  71 Threaten injury to school officer or employee
  •  102 Take or destroy property in custody of officer
  •  187 Murder
  •  220 Assault with intent to mayhem/rape/sodomy/oral copulation
  •  537 Nonpayment of a bill (Restaurants, etc.)
  •  11352 Sale/transportation of heroin, cocaine, peyote, mescaline, and THC
  •  647h Disorderly conduct – peeking into an inhabited building
  •  499b Joyriding
  •  11377 Possession
  •  21111 Throwing article
  •  10851 Auto theft

Overall, a 5150 is a police code for an involuntary 72-hour hold. A person is kept for 3 days in a psychiatric facility.


  1. Crisis and 5150 Process | FERC 
  2. Police Radio Codes | Stanford