Right to counsel

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Legislation, Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

When an indigent person is mentally disabled and requires involuntary admission to residential services, he or she is entitled to appointed counsel at both the capacity determination, Fla. Stat. § 393.12, and the hearing to determine involuntary admission, Fla. Stat. § 393.11(6). Counsel must also be appointed for indigent people subject to petitions for inpatient placement, Fla. Stat. § 394.467(4).


In Auxier v. Jerome Golden Center for Behavioral Health, 85 So.3d 1164 (Fla. App. 2012), a ward's GAL commited the ward and then opposed appointment of counsel for the ward, arguing that the GAL's own attorney could represent the ward. The Court of Appeals held that the attorney appointed pursuant to § 394.467(4) represents the ward, not any GAL that the ward might have.


There is also a right to counsel for involuntary substance abuse treatment. Fla. Stat. §§ 397.681(2); 397.6975(3) (where service provider seeks to extend treatment); 394.4598 (court must appoint counsel for patient where facility administrator seeks to appoint guardian advocate to consent to treatment on patient’s behalf).  


Where the state seeks to place a juvenile in a mental health facility, "If the department's motion, the guardian ad litem's report, or another party based on communication with the child indicates that the child does not agree with the department's motion, then the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the child, if one has not already been appointed."  Fla. R. Juv. P. Rule 8.350(a)(6).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no