Right to counsel

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Legislation, Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Fla. Stat. § 394.916(3) provides for appointment of the public defender or other counsel selected by the court in proceedings for involuntary civil commitment of sexually violent predators. See also Fla. R. Civ. Pro. Invol. Commit. of Sexually Violent Predators Rule 4.200 ("The presiding judge shall appoint an attorney to represent the respondent at the time an order finding probable cause is entered..."). 


In Manning v. State, 913 So. 2d 37 (Fla. App. 2005), the Court of Appeals recognized a right to effective assistance of counsel in SVP proceedings, noting that (a) the Supreme Court of Florida recognized such a right to effective assistance in civil commitments in Pullen v. State, 802 So. 2d 1113 (Fla. 2001); and (b) in Williams v. State, 889 So. 2d 804, 806 (Fla. 2004), the Supreme Court of Florida had observed that "an involuntary civil commitment resulting in an individual's confinement for an indeterminate, and potentially indefinite, period of time presents the sort of 'massive curtailment of liberty interests' with which we were concerned in Pullen."  Subsequent to Manning, “the Florida Supreme Court adopted rule 4.460, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure for Involuntary Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators. The rule provides that ineffectiveness of trial counsel may be asserted by filing a habeas corpus petition.”  Bohner v. State, 157 So. 3d 526, 527 (Fla. App. 2015).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no