Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

A court must appoint counsel for an indigent parent if a child has been placed, or the petitioning agency is recommending that the child be placed, in out-of-home care. Cal. Wel. & Inst. Code § 317(b). Otherwise, appointment is discretionary. Cal. Wel. & Inst. Code § 317(a)(1). 


Though timing of appointment is not specified, Section (d) states that “Counsel shall represent the parent, guardian, child, or nonminor dependent at the detention hearing and at all subsequent proceedings before the juvenile court.” Cal. Wel. & Inst. Code § 317. In addition, notices issued to the parents in dependent child proceedings include a statement about the right to counsel and the procedure to obtain appointed counsel. See e.g., Cal. Wel. & Inst. Code § 291(d)(6)(B),(C)&(D); § 292(d); § 293(d) (doesn't include statement as to procedure to obtain counsel). 


The right to counsel applies on appeals, at least for appellant parents (as opposed to respondent parents). See In re Chantal S., 913 P.2d 1075, 1084 (Cal. 1996) ("indigent parents who appeal from juvenile court final orders have a right to appointed counsel on appeal").

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes