Start-road-pixabayIn many jurisdictions, the attorney-client relationship in delinquency court terminates after disposition, despite juvenile defenders’ continuing role and obligations, leaving youth on their own to navigate continuing legal obligations while on probation or while incarcerated. This often lengthy period of the juvenile court process, known as post-disposition, may raise numerous complex legal issues that require the guiding hand of counsel to steer youth toward successful outcomes and away from deeper court involvement.

Consistent with best practices and Part VII Role of Juvenile Defense Counsel After Disposition of the National Juvenile Defense Standards, juvenile defenders should stay in contact with their clients after disposition while the client is under court or agency jurisdiction, and should continue their representation, including at disposition review and parole revocation hearings. For youth in secure placement, defenders have a heightened responsibility to monitor the treatment, safety, and mental health of their clients and to help ensure that a re-entry plan is in place so that the child can effectively reintegrate into the community and is not set up for failure once released. Further, defenders have a post-dispositional duty to inform their clients of the right to appeal, explaining that the decision to appeal ultimately belongs to the client.

For examples of successful mechanisms that have been used to provide youth with post-dispositional representation, see the Innovation Brief on Addressing the Legal Needs of Youth After Disposition.

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