Right to Legal Counsel at Commitment Hearings

Civil commitment is a legal process by which persons can be involuntarily held for mental health treatment. All U.S. states and the District of Columbia provide for civil commitment if persons have either a mental health disorder or a developmental disability and are dangerous to themselves or to others. A minority of states also allow civil commitment based on alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or sexually violent predator status. Nearly all states provide for outpatient commitment (or assisted outpatient treatment) through which a court orders community-based treatment. Because civil commitment is not a criminal proceeding, the right to counsel afforded by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not apply, and the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled as to whether the due process ...

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