Attorneys in the Juvenile Division of the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office represent youths who appear in 19 courtrooms in 7 different courthouses throughout Los Angeles County. Every year in those courtrooms our office represents youths who are charged with offenses that range in gravity from truancy to homicide. Our attorneys provide vigorous advocacy for their young clients from their first meeting, through the case preparation process, contested hearings and adjudications until the termination of the court’s jurisdiction.
In addition to investigating the charged allegations, lawyers also explore their clients’ backgrounds by discussing past histories of abuse and neglect, mental health, special education and substance abuse and other important topics. Attorneys also work with Juvenile Division psychiatric social workers, resource attorneys, paralegals and investigators. These professionals provide services such as in-house psychosocial assessments, special education and regional center advocacy, and collection and synthesis of the youth’s medical, mental health, school and dependency records. The attorney then uses this information to provide a complete, holistic picture of the youth to the juvenile court bench officer so that if the petition is sustained he or she can understand the needs of the youth and the circumstances that may have contributed to the act that brought the youth to delinquency court.