Juvenile Delinquency Case

A guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed to represent the best interests of a child in a delinquency proceeding. The GAL will advocate for placement and treatment, assess whether the juvenile is competent to proceed, determine whether the juvenile’s decisions are in her/his best interests and so report to the court, and protect the child’s rights in the proceedings. The GAL is not a party to the delinquency action.

The judge may appoint a GAL when:

There is no parent, guardian, or other adult that appears with the child for court hearings,

The judge finds a conflict of interest exists between the child and the parent/guardian, or

The judge makes specific findings that a GAL appointment will serve the best interests of the child.

The judge also has discretion to appoint a GAL when charges against the juvenile are filed directly in adult criminal court.


The GAL’s appointment ends when:

The child is sentenced, unless the child is placed on probation and as a condition of probation is ordered to reside in a residential or community placement,

The child reaches eighteen years of age, unless the child has a developmental disability.

In addition, the appointment may end when the circumstances supporting the GAL’s appointment no longer exist.