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Click below to read through a list of questions frequently asked by youth, parents, and lawyers.

Youth FAQ | Parents FAQ | Lawyers FAQ



Youth FAQ
(pdf version)


If police stop me and ask me questions, should I talk to them?

It is important to remember that anything you say, even if it is true, can be used against you. If the police stop you, you should always remain respectful and polite to them even if you believe that they are stopping you for no reason. You should give them your true name and address, but you do not have to answer any other questions they ask you.

If I'm arrested, do I have to answer the questions police ask me?

It is important to remember that anything you say, even if it is true or you think it will help you, can be used against you. If you are arrested, you should not say anything to the police until you speak to a lawyer first. You should tell the police that you wish to have a lawyer present before you speak to them. You should give your true name and address to the police.

If I'm arrested, how do I get a lawyer?

If you are arrested, you will have to go to court. Once you are in court, a probation officer will speak to you and your guardian to determine whether a lawyer will be appointed to you. Everyone who is arrested is entitled to have a lawyer with them in court. Most people who go to court are appointed a lawyer. You will meet your lawyer in court, and he or she will talk to you about your case and represent you in court. If the court does not give you a lawyer, your parents will have to hire one. The Massachusetts Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service. You can call them at (800) 392-6164 or (617) 654-0400, or visit the website at www.masslawhelp.com.

How many times do I have to go to court for a case?

It depends. Sometimes you only have to go to court once or twice before the case is resolved. Other times, you may have to go to court many times. It depends on what kind of case it is. Going to court is very important so you should remember your court dates. You must go to court every time your case is scheduled. If you miss a court date, the judge could issue a warrant, and the police could arrest you and lock you up for missing court. If you forget what your court date is, call your lawyer and find out. If you lose your lawyer's telephone number, call the court to get your next court date.

What happens after I get arrested?

After you are arrested, the police will take you down to the police station. The police must notify your parents that you were arrested. Sometimes, the police will let your parents pay money (bail) to take you home from the police station. Other times, you will be held until you are taken to court later that day or the next day. If you are arrested and held on a Friday after court is closed, or over the weekend, you will be brought to court on Monday. Once you get to court, you will be appointed a lawyer.

Who does my lawyer work for?

Your lawyer works for you. It does not matter whether your parents paid for your lawyer or the Court paid for your lawyer. Your lawyer will not repeat anything you have said to anyone, including your parents and the Court, without your permission. Your lawyer will prepare your case, advise you, speak on your behalf, but will never do anything on your case that you do not want.

What is a clerk's hearing?

A clerk's hearing is a meeting at court where a clerk decides whether there is enough reason to believe that someone has committed a crime and whether a case should be brought against that person. The alleged victim and/or witnesses will be there to tell the clerk what happened. You may get something in the mail telling you to come to court for a clerk's hearing. If you receive one, you must go to court. It is a good idea to have a lawyer go with you. You can call a lawyer at YAP ((617) 445-5640) if you need a lawyer to come with you. If you do not go to the hearing and the victim is there and wants to press charges, charges could be brought against you. The person who has been accused has a right to be there but should not say anything unless a lawyer is there with him/her. If the clerk finds that there is enough reason to believe that a crime occurred and the victim wants to press charges, a case is brought against the accused person. The person who is accused must come to court on a later date and appear in front of a judge to be charged with the crime.

Who does the prosecutor, or ADA (Assistant District Attorney) work for?

The Assistant District Attorney who prosecutes the case does not work for any of the witnesses or victims. The Assistant District Attorney works for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Every county in Massachusetts has its own District Attorney's Office. The person in charge of each office is called the District Attorney, and is elected by the citizens of that county. The lawyers who work in the office are called Assistant District Attorneys, and are paid by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Will I get locked up if I go to court?

You do not automatically get locked up if you go to court. When you go to court for the first time the judge decides whether you get locked up or not, and whether your family can pay a bail to have you released if you are locked up. The judge considers things like whether you have a prior record, whether you have other open cases, whether you are on probation, the seriousness of your current charge(s), whether you have ever missed a court date in the past, whether a family member is in court with you, whether you are working and/or going to school, and whether you are involved in community activities. Your lawyer will tell the court all the reasons you should not be locked up. After the judge listens to your lawyer, the DA, the probation officer, and other persons, he or she will decide if you get locked up.

If you do not get locked up, the judge can let you go home, but may put conditions on you. For example, the judge can give you a curfew, tell you have to go to school on time every day, and not cause problems in school. If you do not follow any of these conditions the judge can lock you up.

What is DYS?

DYS stands for Department of Youth Services. DYS is the agency that is responsible for supervising youth who plead guilty to, or were found guilty of, a crime. DYS is also where youth go who are held on bail.

What does it mean to be committed to DYS?

If you are committed, DYS will decide where you will live until you turn 18 (or 21 - See the Youthful Offender question). You will go to a residential or a locked program when you are first committed, but may eventually live at home with rules set by DYS.

Will my cases stay on my record?

Your cases will stay on your record, even after you turn 17. However, because your juvenile record is confidential, no one should know if you have been through the juvenile system. There are some situations where someone may find out about your juvenile record. For example, if you go to court, the probation department will look up your record. Sometimes schools have access to your juvenile record. When you apply for jobs or schools, they may be able to look at your juvenile record if you give them permission.

In general, your cases will stay on your record, even after you turn 17. If you were only treated as a delinquent, your case remains confidential, which means that the general public does not have access to your record. However, there are times when someone may find out about your delinquency record. If you go to court, the probation department will look up your record and sometimes the schools may get access to you record. Also, if you were sentenced as a Youthful Offender, your record would be open to public inspection in the same way as an adult record.

Will my parents find out what I tell my lawyer?

What you tell your lawyer about your case is private between you and your lawyer. The lawyer cannot tell your parents or anyone else anything about the case without your permission. This is called "attorney-client privilege."

If I plead to a case, do I have to put that on my job application?

In Massachusetts, a employer cannot automatically ask about a whether a person has had criminal cases. The outcome of the criminal charge and the seriousness of the charge determine whether an employer can ask about someone's criminal history. An "adjudication of delinquency" is not the same as an adult criminal conviction. So, you should never have to put on a job application that you were convicted of a crime if your case remained in juvenile court and you were not treated as a youthful offender. But, if you were sentenced as a youthful offender, the law is less clear.

If you have a youthful offender sentence, you should first ask your lawyer about the specifics of your case to see what answer you should put on a job application. The juvenile statute does not clearly say whether a youthful offender sentence is the same as an adult disposition. One section of the law in Massachusetts states that all proceedings against children shall not be deemed criminal proceedings, which means the dispositions are confidential and the court proceedings are not open to the public. Yet, another part of the law states that youthful offender proceedings are open to the public, like an adult case, but does not say the dispositions are to be treated as adult sentences. Yet another part of the statute states that no"...adjudication or disposition or evidence (shall) operate to disqualify a child in any future examination, appointment, or application for public service under the government either of the commonwealth or of any political subdivision..." Because the law is unclear, it is best to first talk to your lawyer who handled your case or you can call and speak with a YAP lawyer.

What is a jury trial?

At a jury trial, a group of people called a jury determines whether or not you are guilty or not guilty. The jury is made up of six people for delinquency cases or twelve people for youthful offender cases. The people are selected at random from the county where your case occurred. You and your lawyer play a role in choosing who is on your jury. The prosecutor will have witnesses testify about what they know or saw. Your lawyer will have a chance to ask the witnesses questions and can also have witnesses testify for you. You can also testify and tell your side of the story. After all the witnesses have testified, your lawyer will tell the jurors why they should decide you are not guilty. The prosecutor will tell the jurors why they should decide that you are guilty and has to prove to the jury that you are guilty. If the jurors are not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty then they must find you not guilty. All the jurors must agree on the decision. If they cannot agree then that is called a "hung jury", and another trial with different jurors will happen unless a deal that you agree with can be worked out.

What is a Youthful Offender?

Youth between the ages of 14 and 17 can be prosecuted as a Youthful Offender if they are charged with a felony (a serious crime) and fit into one of these 3 categories:

Youth convicted as Youthful Offenders can receive an adult prison or House of Correction sentence, a commitment to the Department of Youth Services (DYS) to age 21, or a combination of a commitment to DYS to age 21 and a suspended adult sentence.

What is a CHINS?

CHINS stands for "children in need of services." A judge can put you into this category if the judge is worried that certain behavior may be a sign that you are likely to become involved in delinquent or criminal activity in the future. Even if you come to court for doing something that is not a crime for adults (like running away from home or skipping school), the judge might see the behavior as a cause for concern. These "unacceptable" behaviors are called "status offenses" since the behaviors are considered unacceptable because of your age.

When a CHINS petition is filed, your family will be referred to a Juvenile Court probation officer and to the Department of Social Services. There are four types of CHINS petitions:

If after reviewing the petition, the judge determines that you are a child in need of services, the judge may return you home in the custody of a parent, transfer custody to a relative, or transfer custody to DSS.

What is probation?

Probation is a period of time when you have to follow rules that a judge sets for you. If you don't follow the rules that the judge sets, you can be committed to DYS. Here are some of the conditions that a judge may set:

When you are placed on probation, the judge will assign you to a probation officer ("PO") who will check on you regularly to see how you are doing at home and at school. Don't talk to the PO about your case, because the PO could tell the judge what you say.

Will my case affect school?

Yes. If school officials learn that you have been charged with or found delinquent of a serious crime (a felony), you can be suspended or expelled. You can be suspended or expelled from school even if your case did not happen at school and has nothing to do with school.

In order to suspend you, you must receive a letter from your principal stating the reasons why he or she wants to suspend you. You will then go to school where there will be a hearing to decide whether you should be suspended. In order to suspend you, the principal must decide that if you stay in school it would have a "substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school." If you receive a letter from the principal stating that he or she plans to suspend you, you should tell your lawyer immediately. Your lawyer has the right to be at the hearing.

If you are found delinquent or guilty of a serious crime, you can be expelled. As with suspensions, you must receive a letter stating the reasons why the principal wants to expel you. In order to expel you, the principal must decide that if you stay in school it would have a "substantial detrimental effect on the general welfare of the school." Again, if you receive a letter from the principal stating that he or she plans to suspend you, you should tell your lawyer immediately. Your lawyer has the right to be at the hearing.

If you receive special education services the principal might not be able to expel you.

Your case may also affect school because a probation officer will call your school to find out how you are doing. The probation officer will then tell the judge how many days you have missed from school, how often you have been late for school, and whether or not you have been suspended. If a judge hears that you have missed a lot of school, have been late a lot, or have been in trouble at school, the judge could order you to attend school every day, on time, and obey all school rules. If you then miss school, are late, or get into trouble at school, you could be locked up for disobeying the judge's order.

What if I don't like my lawyer?

Not everyone likes his or her lawyer. People have personality conflicts all the time, but are still able to respect each other and work together. The more important question, then, is can you work with your lawyer. Does your lawyer listen to you? Does he or she explain things to you in ways that you understand? Has he or she met with you outside of court, to review and prepare your case? If you feel that your lawyer does not listen to you, or explain things to you, or is otherwise leaving you out of the process, you should talk to your lawyer first and see if you can resolve your differences. If you still are not satisfied and feel that your lawyer is not acting in your best interest, you should ask your lawyer to withdraw from your case and request that the judge gives you a new lawyer. You will need to be prepared, however, to tell the judge exactly why you feel that your lawyer is not acting in your best interests. Simply telling the judge that you don't like your lawyer is not enough.

What should I wear to court?

You should dress for court the way that you would for a job interview, religious service, or any other event where you would want to be taken seriously and show your respect. Your clothes should be clean and neat. You should avoid wearing anything that adults might find offensive. You should not wear hats and your shirt should be tucked in. The better you are dressed, the better impression you will make on the judge.

What happens if I don't go to court?

If you do not go to court when you are supposed to, the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest. This can happen when you miss court completely, or if you are late. A failure to show up for court is called a "default." When a judge issues a warrant for an arrest, your name and address is given to the police and they are told that they can go to your home, school, or work, and arrest you. They can also arrest you if they happen to see you on the street.

If the police arrest you for this, you will be brought to the courthouse either the same day as your arrest, or the next weekday morning. At that time, a judge will decide whether or not to let you go. Many judges will hold people on a cash bail if they have defaulted. If your parent/guardian cannot pay the cash bail, you will be held at DYS until your case is over.

If you miss a court date, you should immediately contact your lawyer and make arrangements to meet your lawyer at the courthouse to clear the default warrant. If you are unable to reach your lawyer, you can go to the court yourself to clear the default. Bring a parent or guardian with you. At that time you will be provided with a lawyer who will help you explain to the judge why you missed your court date. It is always better for you to walk into the courthouse on you own than it is for the police to bring you in. When you show up on your own, you show the judge that you have taken your obligation to come to court seriously, and stand a much better chance of being allowed to go home rather than be locked up at DYS.

Who can I talk to about my case?

The only person you should talk to about your case is your lawyer. With your lawyer's help, you may decide that there are other people who you should talk to, like your parents or a counselor. It is better to talk with your lawyer first, so that he or she can explain to you why it may not be a good idea to talk to people about your case. The main reason is that if you tell people like school officials, police officers, probation officers, DYS caseworkers, or even your friends about your case, your words can come back to cause you a problem. There are many ways that the most innocent words can get twisted around. School officials, police officers, probation officers and DYS caseworkers may report what you have told them back to the district attorney's office and the judge on your case. Your friends may use what you have told them to get them out of trouble if they get arrested. You should not talk to anyone unless you have cleared it with your lawyer first.

YAP can help you find the services and programs you need to have a positive future. For those of you who live outside of Suffolk County, YAP can also assist you in finding help in your own city and town. Email or call us with your questions.

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Parents FAQ
(pdf version)

What is the job of my child's lawyer?

The job of your child's lawyer is to prepare his case, help him to understand the process, give him legal advice, and advocate for whatever outcome your child has decided upon. The lawyer is responsible for all the legal work in the case and any investigation that needs to be done. Your child's attorney should make sure that your child truly understands the process and the choices that he or she will need to make. Your child's attorney should also explain the process to you. It is important to remember that the lawyer works for your child and not for you. Your child's lawyer should never tell you anything about the case without your child's permission. If you and your child disagree about how to handle the case, the lawyer must follow your child's wishes.

Who makes the decisions for my child?

Your child will make all of the major decisions in his case. His attorney makes certain legal decisions, but all major decisions, such as whether or not to go to trial, are made by your child, the defendant. You are free to advise your child and the lawyer may also advise your child. Ultimately your child has control over the major decisions in his case. It may seem impractical to you to let a child make such important decisions, but keep in mind that it is the child who will live with the consequences.

What if I don't like my child's lawyer?

You do not have to like your child's attorney. You also do not have to agree with your child's attorney about what is in your child's best interest. You do have to feel, however, that your child's lawyer is zealously advocating for his or her best legal interests. Your child's attorney is just that - your child's attorney. he or she is not your attorney and does not represent you. Even though your child is a minor, his attorney does not have to tell you what your child tells him and does not have to do what you think would be best for your child.

Many attorneys will encourage their child clients to bring their parents into the process, because it is usually beneficial for a child to be able to discuss his or her options with a parent and for the parent to help make decisions. This is not always possible. For example, sometimes children are embarrassed or ashamed of what they have done and do not feel comfortable telling their parents what happened. In this situation, it is critical for the child to be able to trust that the attorney will not reveal what the child has told him in order for the child to tell the attorney the truth. Where a child is unable to trust his attorney, that attorney's ability to zealously advocate for him can be seriously compromised.

If you believe that your child's attorney is not listening to him or is not explaining things in ways that your child can understand, you should first speak to the attorney to see if the problem can be resolved. If your child's attorney fails to meet with him, fails to show up for court appearances, and otherwise neglects your child's case, you should ask that attorney to withdraw and request that the judge give your child a new lawyer. Judges rarely grant requests for new lawyers so you should be prepared to give the judge specific reasons why you are not satisfied with the attorney.

What should I expect on the first day my child goes to court?

Your child's first day in court is for arraignment and bail hearing. The purpose of the arraignment is to tell your child and you what he or she is charged with. The judge will also decide whether to release the child to you, or to set bail. Before the bail hearing, you should report to the probation department. You should also speak to your child's lawyer to give him any helpful information about your child. Unfortunately, you may have to sit in court for a few hours before your child's case is called. You should wait in the hallway outside the juvenile courtroom. The lawyer who has been assigned to your child's case will come find you. Be sure to tell your child's lawyer if you leave the waiting area.

Who decides whether my child goes home?

When your child has been arrested or is being accused of violating the terms of his or her probation, the judge makes the final decision on whether to release your child, set bail, or hold your child in custody without bail. If your child is not released and a bail is set, you can bail your child out from the courthouse or from DYS. It must be paid in cash or money order, and will be returned to you once the case is over. If you bail your child out of DYS, it costs an extra $40 for the bail bonds person, which you do not get back. Usually a bail bonds person will come after 4 or 5pm to do it.

How do I find out where my child is located when s/he is with DYS?

Information about placements may not be available until late in the afternoon on the day your child is placed in DYS. Call the area intake office closest to where you live and they will be able to tell you where your child is being held. You can then call this program to find out visiting times and rules.

Metro Boston - (617) 740-0211

Central - (508) 792-7611

Southeastern - (508) 821-2717 x817

Western - (413) 784-1193

Can the alleged victim drop the case?

The alleged victim does not have the authority to drop a case. Only the prosecutor can decide to drop a case. Even where the alleged victim is saying he or she wants the case dropped, the prosecutor can still go forward with the case and choose not to dismiss it.

Can I talk to the alleged victim (or the victim's parent if he or she is a child)?

You should not speak to the alleged victim or the victim's parent. Talking to them could get you or your child in serious legal trouble, especially if the judge has ordered that your child stay away from the alleged victim. A judge cannot order you to stay away from somebody since you are not the defendant. However, most stay-away orders say your child cannot have any direct or indirect contact. Therefore, a parent contacting an alleged victim or his parent may be construed as indirect contact. If you are on friendly terms with the family of the alleged victim, speak to your lawyer about how or whether to talk to them.

What will my role be in the courtroom?

Your role in court will be to provide emotional support for your child. You should speak to your child's lawyer about your child's personal history, such as difficult circumstances that he or she has faced and how well he or she is doing at home and in school. Since it is your child who has been accused of a crime, he or she makes decisions about the case, such as whether to go to trial or plead to the case.

If the police want to talk to my child, what should I do?

You should politely and respectfully ask the officer why he or she needs to speak to your child. You can tell the officer that you wish to consult with an attorney before allowing your child to speak to the police. It is important to keep in mind that anything your child says to the police can be used against him. It is best to consult an attorney before allowing the police to speak with your child. You can call the Youth Advocacy Department at (617) 989-8100 to consult with an attorney.

Should I ever call the police on my child?

We cannot advise you on whether or not to call the police on your child. You should, however, be aware of the consequences. Sometimes parents call the police on their child in order to teach the child a lesson and do not want criminal charges filed. You should know, however, that once the police are called and they become involved, you as a parent do not have control over whether criminal charges are filed. Even if you do not want to see your child arrested, the police can do so anyway and your child could end up facing criminal charges in court. Once the case is in court, the prosecutor, not the victim, decides what happens to the case. Even if you do not want to press charges against your child, the prosecutor can decide to do so anyway.

What happens when my child is on probation?

When your child is on probation, he or she has to follow rules that a judge has set. Your child must follow these rules to show the judge that more serious steps do not need to be taken to help your child stay out of trouble with the law. Usually, the judge will set conditions like:

While your child is on probation, he or she will be assigned a probation officer ("PO") who will regularly check on how your child is doing at school and at home. The PO will interview both you and your child. Keep in mind that the PO may talk to the judge or others about your child. Therefore, you should be careful about what information you share with the PO since it is not a confidential conversation.

Should I call my child's probation officer if my child is having problems while on probation?

We cannot advise you on whether or not to call the probation officer. You should, however, be aware of the consequences. If the probation officer believes your child is not following his terms of probation, the probation officer could surrender your child, which means that your child has to come back to court, and the judge could have him locked up in DYS (Department of Youth Services). If the judge believes that your child violated his terms of probation, one consequence is that your child could be committed to DYS.

Do I have to let a probation officer in my home?

Yes. Probation officers have the right to visit and meet with probationers. Probation officers also have the right to search the probationer or his home if the officer has reason to believe the probationer has violated any of the terms or conditions of probation.

What happens when my child is held at the Department of Youth Services (DYS)?

If your child has an open case and is held on bail, or without bail, he or she will be held at a detention unit that is operated by the Department of Youth Services. While held there, he or she will have access to medical and educational services. There are also clinicians/caseworkers who may check in with your child. You should call the facility to get information on visiting times and rules.

What does it mean if my child is "committed" to DYS?

If your child is committed to DYS, the Department of Youth Services will have physical custody of your child until his 18th birthday (or 21st birthday - See Youthful Offender question). You will maintain legal custody of your child. A committed youth will go to a residential or secure (locked) program for a period of time determined by DYS and may eventually live at home with DYS rules.

A meeting called a staffing will be held 30 to 45 days after your child is committed to DYS and a plan for his placement will be discussed. It will be important for you to attend this meeting to advocate for what your child needs. Before this meeting, a representative of DYS will contact you to get information about your child, his development, life growing up, etc. in order to write a case history of your child. DYS wants to have the most comprehensive information about your child so that they can best work with him. Periodic meetings will be held regarding your child's progress within DYS. It is important to try to attend these meetings so you can be kept up to date.

If your child is eventually returned to your home, he or she will be required to live under DYS rules. Your child and his DYS community caseworker will sign a contract called a Grant of Conditional Liberty (GCL). If he or she violates any of these rules, DYS can take your child back into their physical custody.

What else can happen to my child and/or my family as a result of my child's court-involvement?

There are many potential consequences to a juvenile or criminal prosecution. Some of the major potential consequences include: deportation, school expulsion, eviction from public housing (this could apply to the entire family), loss of driver's license, loss of educational and employment opportunities, registration as a sex offender, and loss of voting rights. These are possible consequences and do not apply to all cases. Anyone who has a case pending should ask their lawyer if these or other collateral consequences might apply to them.

Can I use the court to get help for my child if he or she is acting out?

Yes. If your child is acting out (stubborn), running away, not going to school, or getting in trouble at school, you can go to court and file what is called a CHINS petition. CHINS stands for Child in Need of Services. You can only file a CHINS petition if your child is between the ages of 6 and 16 if there is a school issue, and between 6 and 17 for stubborn or runaway youth. You must have legal custody of the child in order to file a CHINS petition. If you want to file a petition, you must go the juvenile court clerk's office closest to where you live and ask to file a CHINS petition. After completing the application, the clerk will set a date for a hearing to decide if a CHINS petition will be issued. That hearing is called the "preliminary hearing" or "arraignment." The case will go to a judge. A probation officer will be assigned to conduct an investigation of your child and family in order to decide if the child's best interests will be served by the issuance of the petition. The probation officer will make a report to the judge at the "preliminary hearing" or "arraignment."

At the "preliminary hearing," the judge can do one of three things. 1) The judge may decide not to issue a CHINS petition because he or she does not think there is enough evidence that the child needs services. 2) The judge could decide that it would be best to have probation work with the child and family without formal court involvement. 3) The judge could decide to issue a CHINS petition. If the judge issues the petition, they will either issue a summons for you and your child to come to court at a later date, or in some cases issue a warrant for your child.

If a CHINS petition is issued and at a later date the judge finds your child is in need of supervision, the court can help the child and family in many ways. The court can help with providing services to address all types of issues including medical, psychological, psychiatric, educational, social services, or placement of the child outside the home. The judge's disposition order may not last for more than 6 months, although it can be extended if necessary.

Where do I post bail for my child? How do I get the money back?

If you are in court when the bail is set, you can immediately post the bail at the clerk's office. If your child is already at the DYS facility, you must post the bail there. It is best to first call the DYS facility and tell them you are coming to post bail for your child. They will make arrangements for the bondsman to meet you there to post the bail. When you have to post the bail at the DYS holding facility, it will cost you a $25 fee for the bail bondsman. This fee is non-refundable. You must pay with either cash or money order. Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted.

At the time you post bail, you are given a receipt. When the case is closed, if you present that receipt and your identification, you can get your bail money returned. You must go to the main juvenile clerk's office of the county in which your child's case originated in order to get your money back.

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Lawyers FAQ
(pdf version)

How do I get court appointed juvenile cases? How do I get on the list? Do I have to be certified? If so, how do I do that?

Attorneys who wish to accept assignments on juvenile delinquency cases must complete a required training program. The training requirement is satisfied by attendance at a five-day seminar, Zealous Advocacy. The program is administered through Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) at various locations throughout the state several times a year. Applications are in the MCLE course catalogue. A schedule of training programs and registration information can be obtained by contacting MCLE at (617) 350-7006, or the CPCS Training Unit (617) 482-6212.

Attorneys who complete the training requirement are certified to represent clients in juvenile delinquency proceedings in the Juvenile Courts and the juvenile session of District Courts, with the exception of potential Youthful Offender matters. The assignment of delinquency cases varies from county to county. Check with your local bar advocate program to learn the practice in your county.

Attorneys who accept assignment on juvenile delinquency cases must represent their clients at all stages of the delinquency proceeding in the Juvenile and District Court. In the event of a final conviction in the Juvenile Jury Session or the District Court Jury of Six Session, it is the responsibility of the trial attorney to file a Notice of Appeal and Motion to Withdraw and to notify CPCS of the need for appellate counsel to be appointed. By accepting juvenile delinquency cases, attorneys agree to abide by the CPCS Performance Standards Governing Representation of Indigent Juveniles in Delinquency and Criminal Cases.

For more information, call CPCS at (617) 482-6212 or go to: http://www.state.ma.us/cpcs/manuals/pcmanual/index.htm

I am already taking appointments on delinquency cases. How can I get on the list to represent kids in youthful offender cases?

Attorneys who wish to accept assignments in Youthful Offender cases must (1) meet the minimum requirements, (2) be accepted to the panel, and (3) complete a training program.

Attorneys must have tried at least five jury trials to completion within the past five years as lead counsel. (Attorneys who have tried at least four jury trials to completion in the past five years and who also have additional documentation demonstrating outstanding credentials, experience and recommendations may also apply.)

Attorneys with the above minimum qualifications who are interested in being trained and becoming a member of this panel must send a letter of application to Attorney Helen Fremont, detailing their most recent (and most serious or complicated) five jury trials tried to completion in which they were lead counsel, including the following information: name of the case; date of the trial; name of the court, judge and prosecutor; charges; length of trial; issues presented; experts or other forensic specialists used as witnesses; and any other relevant material. Attorneys must also send a recent writing sample of 3-5 pages.

Your letter of application should be sent to:

Helen Fremont, Staff Counsel
Committee for Public Counsel Services
44 Bromfield Street
Boston, MA 02108

For more information, call CPCS at (617) 482-6212 or go to http://www.state.ma.us/cpcs/manuals/pcmanual/index.htm

If I am not certified to take youthful offender appointments, what do I do when I'm on duty and a youthful offender eligible case comes in? Can I take the case? Can I do the arraignment? What should I do if I can't take the case?

Attorneys who are not Youthful Offender certified may accept assignments of the cases listed below for ARRAIGNMENT ONLY. Delinquency certified attorneys must immediately notify the court and the bar advocate program that they can only represent the client at arraignment. Assignment of a Youthful Offender certified attorney must be made immediately after the arraignment. A delinquency certified attorney may accept assignment of any Youthful Offender eligible case not listed below. If the case is indicted, a Youthful Offender certified attorney must be reassigned to the case.

Charges Requiring Youthful Offender Certification:
Aggravated Rape (M.G.L.c.265 §22)
Armed Assault with Intent to Rob/Murder (M.G.L.c.265 §18)
Armed Assault in a Dwelling (M.G.L.c.265 §18A)
Armed Burglary and Assault on Occupant (M.G.L.c.266 §14)
Armed Robbery (M.G.L.c.265 §17)
Assault with Intent to Maim with Injury (M.G.L.c.265 §14)
Assault with Intent to Maim, Kill, or Murder (M.G.L.c.265 §15)
Assault with Intent to Commit Rape (M.G.L.c.265 §24)
Attempted Murder (M.G.L.c.265 §16)
Attempted Arson (M.G.L.c.266 §5A)
Burglary and Assault in a Dwelling (M.G.L.c.266 §14)
Burning a Dwelling House (M.G.L.c.266 §1)
Burning a Public Building (M.G.L.c.266 §2)
Carrying Firearm Without a License (M.G.L.c.269 §10A, D)
Gun Cases (M.G.L.c.269 §10 para (a), (c), or (d), and §10E
Home Invasion (M.G.L.c.265 §18C)
Indecent Assault and Battery (M.G.L.c.265 §13B, F, H)
Kidnapping (M.G.L.c.265 §26)
Manslaughter (M.G.L.c.265 §13)
Mayhem (M.G.L.c.265 §14)
Motor Vehicle Homicide (M.G.L.c.90 §24G)
Possession of Shotgun - Barrel under 18"/Machine Gun (M.G.L.c.269 §10C)
Rape (M.G.L.c.265, §22, 22A, 25)
Statutory Rape (M.G.L.c.265 §23)

If my client is held on bail, how do I find out where he or she is?

When juveniles are held on bail, they are transported from court to the DYS intake office for the area in which they live (not the area of the court from which they were arrested). DYS has four regions. Call the intake department for the appropriate region.

Metro - (617) 727-2995

Central - (508) 792-7611

Southeastern - (508) 821-2717 x817

Western - (413) 784-1193

How can I get a bail review in superior court?

Juvenile bail review procedures vary among counties. It is important to find out what the practice is in your county. You should state on the record at arraignment that you are requesting a bail petition and ask the judge to complete his or her reasons for bail, obtain and file the proper paperwork, make sure DYS has the necessary paperwork to bring your client in for a bail petition, and inform your client's family where the bail review will be heard.

Are there different issues regarding bail for children as opposed to adults?

M.G.L.c.276 §58 applies to juveniles -- a presumption of personal recognizance exists. Since you are dealing with children, courts often look at different factors. The court may be concerned about how your client is doing in school and at home, such as whether they comply with curfew and home rules. You should be prepared to answer these questions at arraignment. The judge may release your client under pre-trial conditions pursuant to M.G.L.c.276 §87. See Jake J. v. Commonwealth, 433 Mass. 70 (2000).

Will my client's court case affect his or her ability to stay in school? What can I do to help? Will I get paid?

M.G.L.c.71 §37H _ provides that upon issuance of a criminal or delinquency complaint charging a student with a felony, the principal of the school the student attends may suspend him/her for as long of a period of time as the principal deems appropriate. The principal may suspend a student even if the alleged incident happened off school grounds, and has nothing to do with school. In order to suspend the student, the principal must determine that the student's continued presence at the school would have a "substantial detrimental effect" on the general welfare of the school. The student must be provided written notice of the charges and reasons for the principal's decision, before the suspension takes effect. The student must also receive notice of his or her right to appeal this decision to the superintendent of schools, and the process for pursuing this appeal. If the student wishes to appeal the principal's decision, he or she must notify the superintendent in writing no later than five days after the effective date of the suspension. If the student appeals the principal's decision, he or she is entitled to a hearing within three calendar days of the request. At the hearing, the student has the right to present oral and written testimony on his or her behalf and has the right to have an attorney present. The superintendent has the authority to overturn or alter the decision of the principal, including recommending an alternative educational program for the student. The superintendent must issue a decision within five calendar days of the hearing. If the student's due process rights were violated, the decision may be appealed to superior court.

A student may be expelled upon adjudication or conviction of a felony. The same notice, due process and appeals procedures stated above apply to children who are adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a felony.

Students who receive special educational services have more protections than regular education students. In order to exclude a special education student the TEAM must make a determination that the conduct in question was not a manifestation of the student's disability. Title 20, Chapter 33, Section 1415 of the United States Code outlines the procedural safeguards children with disabilities must be provided when charged in criminal or delinquency proceedings.

As the student's attorney, you can initiate the appeal process and in turn represent the student at the suspension or expulsion hearing. Effective representation at these proceedings requires that you first obtain a release from the student and his or her parent and assemble his or her school records. You should also obtain a copy of the school handbook and M.G.L.c.71, §37H_. You should also obtain a copy of Title 20, Chapter 33, Section 1415 if your client receives special education services.

At present, CPCS is only paying attorneys who call and receive individual permission to represent their clients at these hearings. Individual permission has been granted where the school hearing bears a direct relationship to the client's case, i.e., the offense is alleged to have happened on school grounds. To obtain individual permission, you should contact Helen Fremont at (617) 482-6212. Attorneys can also seek indigent court cost funds for the purposes of hiring an educational advocate, but should consult the CPCS guidelines for the specific definition of an education advocate prior to hiring one.

Will a delinquency finding or youthful offender conviction affect my clients' immigration status? What can I do about this? How do I advise my client?

At this time we are unaware of delinquency cases or youthful offender cases leading directly to deportation. However, it seems likely that the INS will eventually view Youthful Offender adjudications as identical to adult convictions. It is also the case that both delinquency and youthful offender adjudications may be used now to exclude aliens who have left the country and are attempting to reenter. They may also be used to deny people green cards or citizenship. In Massachusetts, a "continued without a finding (CWOF)" disposition is a conviction for immigration purposes. It is always advisable to avoid adjudication if possible. It may also be important to avoid adjudications on certain charges. We highly recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before resolving the case. It is unlikely that an immigration attorney could give your client good advice without speaking with you. Contact the National Immigration Project at (617) 227-9727 for more detailed advice.

Once a child is committed to DYS, how much time will they actually do? How do I advise my client about this?

DYS has a classification grid that outlines the minimum and maximum treatment times for every offense. DYS will use your client's most serious offense to determine where he or she will be placed on the grid. Your client will have to do at least the minimum time shown on the grid. It is best to stress to your client that this is the least amount of time that he or she will have to do in a program, and that he or she may have to do longer than this. The time is considered "treatment time" by DYS. The amount of time assigned to a client by DYS is considered a guideline. This means that your client will not be released until DYS believes that your client has completed his or her treatment and is ready to go back into the community. Unlike a state prison or house of correction sentence, it is not set in stone. You can obtain a copy of this grid from DYS by calling (617) 727-7575.

Once my client is committed to DYS, what actually happens? Should I be assisting my client in this area? Will I get paid?

Once your client is committed to DYS, there is a 30-45 day assessment period. During this time, a program clinician or a DYS caseworker writes a case history about your client. If you have information that will assist your client, it is helpful to share this.

At the end of the assessment period, a staffing is held. A staffing is a meeting in which a DYS program clinician, a DYS caseworker and manager, your client and their family, and any other interested parties make a decision as to where your client will be placed and for how long. This is a very important meeting and you can assist your client by attending the staffing and advocating on his behalf. It is possible that you will have more knowledge about your client than anyone other professional at the table. You may also know facts about the client's case that may be helpful to explain since they may not be clear in the police reports. You should also prepare your client to talk about the facts of the case on which he or she was committed. Your client will be asked questions and will be expected to speak. At the end of the meeting, a recommendation will be made regarding the place and amount of time your client will do his treatment. The recommendation must be approved by the DYS Regional Area Review Team, which makes the final classification decision and can approve or disapprove of any recommended deviations from the DYS grid.

If you are have been appointed on the case and are billing CPCS for your services, you can bill for all post-dispositional advocacy you provide to your client through the DYS staffing process.

To find out the name of the caseworker assigned to your client, contact the appropriate region of DYS at the telephone numbers below:

Metro - (617) 727-2995

Central - (508) 792-7611

Southeastern - (508) 821-2717 x817

Western - (413) 784-1193

Can a juvenile's family be evicted from public housing for crimes the juvenile has been charged with?

Both State and Federal law permit eviction of the family from public housing, based upon allegations of criminal conduct by anyone in the family. A conviction is not necessary.

Will a delinquency or youthful offender conviction affect my clients' ability to get a driver's permit or license?

Yes. Many convictions will affect one's ability to get or keep a license. Most, if not all, convictions or delinquency findings for drug offenses will result in a license suspension. A license may also be suspended for motor vehicle offenses or offenses involving a car, e.g. larceny of a motor vehicle, operating to endanger, etc. The duration of the suspension depends upon the crime. You should consult M.G.L.c.90 §22 and inform your client of any consequences resulting from a conviction before he or she decides how to resolve the case. You should always look at the statute to see if your client is charged with an offense involving any type of suspension or revocation. You may also consult the Registry of Motor Vehicles to find out which offenses fall under administrative suspensions and revocations.

In what type of cases can a child be indicted as a youthful offender and what are the consequences?

M.G.L.c.119 §54 sets forth the criteria needed to indict a child as a youthful offender. In order to be indicted, the child must be charged with a felony while between the ages of 14 and 17. Additionally, one of the following factors must exist: (1) the child has previously been committed to DYS, or (2) the offense involves the infliction or threat of serious bodily harm, or (3) the child is charged with a gun offense under paragraphs (a), (c) or (d) of §10 or §10E of M.G.L.c.269.

If a child is found guilty as a youthful offender he or she can receive any of the following sentences: (see M.G.L.c.119 §58)

Do youth have to register under the sex offender registry law?

Yes. The Sex Offender Registry applies to children as well as adults. Any child facing charges of a sexual nature should discuss the Sex Offender Registry with his or her attorney before making any decisions on the case. For the most up-to-date information on the Sex Offender Registry, call the Committee for Public Counsel Services at (617) 482-6212.

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