Right to counsel

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Legislation, Civil Commitment

There is a right to counsel for the subject of a civil commitment proceeding. 50 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7304. In In re Hutchinson, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania interpreted Section 7304 to require that an alleged mental incompetent is entitled to effective representation by competent private or court-appointed counsel in civil commitment proceedings. 454 A.2d 1008, 1011 (Pa. 1982).


Minors who are at least 14 years of age but younger than 18 have a right to counsel in matters related to objecting to continued inpatient treatment per 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 10101.1(a)(7): 


When a petition is filed on behalf of a minor fourteen years of age or older and under eighteen years of age who has been confined for inpatient treatment on the consent of a parent or legal guardian and who objects to continued inpatient treatment by requesting a withdrawal from or modification of treatment, the court shall promptly appoint an attorney for the minor...


Under this provision, "inpatient treatment" is defined as "all mental health treatment that requires full-time or part-time residence in a facility that provides mental health treatment." Id. at § 10101.1(b).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no