California Training and Experience Requirements For Juvenile Defenders
Starting July 1, 2016, appointed juvenile defense attorneys will be required to have specific training in areas relevant to the defense of juvenile clients.
Juvenile Delinquency Court Is Very Different From Adult Criminal CourtAny person unde 18 years of age who commits a crime is subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. The juvenile court seeks to rehabilitate a minor that violates a law, as opposed to adult court which seeks to punish adult offenders. Advances in brain research demonstrate that children and adolescents do not possess the same cognitive, emotional, decisionmaking, and behavioral capacities as adults. The California Legislature enacted Welfare and Institutions Code section 634.3 to ensure that appointed counsel for juveniles possess the necessary training and knowledge of the unique juvenile system so that juvenile offenders would not suffer wrongful judgments, to reduce unnecessary incarceration, and help the minors receive the care, treatment, and guidance upon which the juvenile system is premised.
Specific Requirements For Appointed Juvenile Defense AttorneysAs of July 1, 2016, appointed defense attorneys will be required to do the following: (1) Provide effective and competent advocacy, including adequate investigation and preparation; (2) Provide legal representation based on the client's expressed interests and maintain confidentiality between the attorney and the minor client; (3) Confer with the minor client before each hearing and maintain a sufficient relationship with the minor to include the post disposition period (after the minor has been sentenced); (4) When appropriate, consult experts regarding education, mental health, and social welfare; and (5) The attorneys will be required to receive 12 hours of training and education a year covering all stages of representation of a juvenile from the initial meeting with the minor client to appellate issues, and the possible collateral consequences a juvenile record could have on the client when he/she is an adult.