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Child Counsel in Delinquency Cases

            For over a century, states have believed that the juvenile justice system was a vehicle to protect the public by providing a system that responds to children who are maturing into adulthood. States recognize that children who commit crimes are different from adults: as a class, they are less blameworthy, and they have a greater capacity for change. To respond to these differences, states have established a separate court system for juveniles, and they have created a separate, youth-based service delivery system that is different than that provided to adults. Under Section 13, Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides that the State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and thus, shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. Pursuant to the above constitutional provision, the State has responsibility to provide the youth with care, support and understanding especially during times when he/she experiences confusions and the complexities of life, and is plunged to commit acts of delinquency and, to the extreme crime.
             The practice of law for children is a relatively recent development. The movement to develop an area of practice called children's law is largely an outgrowth of the development of the child protection or dependency court system. A child client is entitled to have his or her interests represented by counsel at every stage of the proceedings. If a client is adjudicated a ward, representation continues into the post dispositional hearings unless the attorney is relieved by the court. This representation extends to matters such as review hearings or violation of probation hearings. The role and duties of an attorney for a minor vary depending on the type of case and the law of the jurisdiction. Children's lawyers typically serve in one of two roles; first is Attorney Guardian Ad Litem. In this capacity, the attorney serves in the special role of guardian ad litem or GAL, and is responsible to represent the child's "best interests.

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