Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Truancy - Petition Against Child

Tenn. Code § 37-1-102(b)(26) establishes that truancy is considered an "unruly child" proceeding.  And Tenn. Code § 37-1-126(a) then specifies:


(1) A child is entitled to representation by legal counsel at all stages of ... proceedings alleging unruly conduct that place the child in jeopardy of being removed from the home pursuant to § 37-1-132(b) ... 


(3)If the person is indigent, the court shall provide counsel for the indigent person. If a person appears without counsel, the court shall ascertain whether the person knows of the right to counsel and of the right to be provided with counsel by the court if the person is indigent. The court may continue the proceeding to enable a person to obtain counsel and shall provide counsel for an unrepresented indigent person upon request.

(4) In ... unruly hearings in which the child may be in jeopardy of being removed from the home as specified in § 37-1-132(b), counsel must be provided for a child not represented by the child's parent, guardian, guardian ad litem or custodian or where the child's interests conflict with the parent, guardian, custodian or guardian ad litem. If the interest of two (2) or more persons conflict, separate counsel may be provided for each of them.

It appears the effect of the combination of these provisions is that a child is entitled to appointed counsel only if threatened with removal from the home, and then must be either a) indigent; or b) not represented by the parent or have interests that conflict with the parent.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes