Right to counsel

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Legislation, Involuntary Medical Treatment (incomplete)

Involuntary Outpatient Treatment


In 2018, the legislature added 50 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 7304(c.2)(3), which specifies that when a petition is filed to subject a person to involuntary outpatient treatment who is not already subject to involuntary inpatient treatment and the court determines the petition sets forth reasonable cause, the court must appoint an attorney “as soon as practicable.  The attorney shall represent the person unless it shall appear that he can afford, and desires to have, private representation.”


Additionally, 71 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 1690.112a provides minors with a right to appointed counsel when being subjected to involuntary drug or alcohol treatment.


Involuntary Medical Treatment for Protected Persons


A guardian cannot consent for certain medical treatment, including abortion, sterilization, and experimental medical procedures, nor to marriage or divorce, "unless specifically included in the guardianship order after specific findings of fact or otherwise ordered after a subsequent hearing." 20 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 5521(d) (emphasis added). 

In proceedings to establish guardianship, the alleged incapacitated person has "the right to request the appointment of counsel and to have counsel appointed if the court deems it appropriate and the right to have such counsel paid for if it cannot be afforded."  20 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 5511(a).  According to 20 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 5512.2(b), the same rights given in guardianship establishment proceedings apply to review proceedings, which means the discretionary appointment of counsel system should apply as well, and review proceedings likely include hearings related to consent for sterilization and other medical procedures given the broad statutory language. Pa. Stat. Ann. § 5512.2(a) ("The court shall conduct a review hearing promptly if the incapacitated person, guardian or any interested party petitions the court for a hearing ... to act in the best interest of the incapacitated person.").

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no