Right to counsel

Key_development Question_mark

Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

An indigent "parent, guardian, or custodian of the child named in the petition" has a right to appointed counsel "at all critical stages of the proceedings" of an abuse/neglect case, as per D.C. Code § 16-2304(b)(1).  Notably, the right to counsel extends to situations where voluntary relinquishment is sought if this occurs during the pendency of the neglect matter. See Matter of D.R., 541 A.2d 1260, 1266 (D.C. 1988) (“any attempt to surrender parental rights through voluntary relinquishment while the mother remains under the court’s neglect jurisdiction must be regarded as a “critical stage” under § 16-2304(b)(1), affording her a statutory right to counsel.”).


Finally, SCR Neglect and Abuse Rule 6 of the Superior Court, governing neglect and abuse proceedings, specifies that parents are to receive notice of their right to appointed counsel upon removal of the child. 

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no