Ohio Juvenile courts were established to rehabilitate, rather than punish, youth charged with delinquent offenses.  Contrary to this goal, the juvenile justice system in reality operates very similar to the adult system- jail confinement, public registration, probation, as well as the stigmatism delinquent convictions carry can last a lifetime.  It is imperative that defense counsel be contacted the instant a juvenile is facing an accusation.

During the early 1960s, the United States Supreme Court established a right to counsel for adult defendants in (Gideon vs. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)). The Court quickly followed by extending a similar right to counsel to youth in delinquency proceedings (In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967)).

Decades later, the specific circumstances under which a youth may waive their right to counsel in delinquency proceedings differs across the states. Some states place restrictions on granting waivers and others remain silent on the issue. Still others define criteria related to age, the offense a youth is charged with or the type of hearing a youth is involved to restrict the ability to waive counsel.

Ongoing efforts to reduce waiver of counsel are important to ensuring youth have access to due process protections. Several states have recently implemented reforms where youth must have an opportunity to consult with counsel prior to waiving their right to counsel.  Most states vary in requirements for informing youth/parents of the possible consequences (collateral consequences) of a delinquency finding and therefore the seriousness of the matter and need for effective counsel.

In Ohio, law enforcement in many instances request that suspect juveniles be questioned without the presence of the parents.  This form of interrogation is unjust, however constitutionally permitted.  Studies have shown that interrogation of juveniles often elicits incorrect facts, due to the naivety of juveniles and a lack of understanding the serious nature of the consequences- the result is often extremely harmful to the juvenile justice system. (See Real Interrogation: What Actually Happens When Copy Question Kids).  Contact an attorney at Nemann Law Offices immediately, for a free consultation on how to protect your child when confronted with a criminal accusation.

Adam Lee Nemann
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Trial and Defense Attorney, Adjunct Professor of Law at Capital University, founder of Nemann Law Offices

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