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Innovation Brief: Early Appointment of Counsel

Published Dec 12, 2013, National Juvenile Defender Center

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The timing of the appointment of counsel can have as much of an impact on the outcome of a case as whether an attorney is appointed at all. Having a qualified juvenile defender present, at the earliest stage possible, protects a youth’s rights, ensures that youth will be informed as to the nature of any plea offer or collateral consequences that might attach to that offer, and will ensure the best possible legal outcome for that child. Juvenile defenders involved in the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN) sought to improve access to counsel by ensuring youth were appointed counsel at the earliest possible stage of juvenile court proceedings.


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Models for Change was a juvenile justice systems reform initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.