Right to counsel

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Legislation, Civil Commitment

There is a right to counsel for indigent persons subject to short- or long-term civil commitment. N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 30:4-27.14(a), 30:4-27.11(c). The short-term confinement statute specifies that the appointed attorney shall be "paid for by the appropriate government agency."  


N.J. R. 4:74-7(g)(1) specifies that the patient has the right to appointed counsel when seeking to convert from involuntary to voluntary status (with previously appointed counsel serving in this role), while N.J. R. 4:74-7(g)(2) requires the appointment of counsel for a patient admitted voluntarily absent a court order in order to determine if the patient gave informed consent to the voluntary treatment.  The patient also has the "right to counsel" (it does not specifically say appointed counsel) in all placement review proceedings. N.J. R. 4:74-7(h)(2).


In regards to initial detention for the purposes of conducting a psychiatric screening, New Jersey enacted SB 3929 in 2023, which provides that a person generally cannot be detained by a general hospital or emergency department facility for longer than 72 hours without a temporary court order authorizing an additional 72-hour hold.  Upon applying for court authorization for the additional hold, the Office of the Public Defender shall be notified of the application and appointed to represent the patient.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no