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.