Juvenile Law

Dependency

When DHS Child Welfare alleges that parents are not providing adequate care or safety for their children, they can seek legal and/or physical custody of the children. Ideally, DHS is supposed to help families solve their problems together, without placing children in foster. The reality often looks very different, with DHS creating problems rather than solving them, and unnecessarily removing children from their home. PDX Law Group has extensive experience representing parents and children at all stages of Juvenile Dependency proceedings in Oregon Juvenile Courts.

Shelter Hearings

Contested Jurisdiction trials

Permanency Hearings

Contested Change-of-Plan hearings

Citizen Review Board meetings

Termination of Parental Rights trials

Intervention in Juvenile Dependency cases – Sometimes DHS keeps relatives or friends out of the loop, or cuts them off completely from the children and the court process. If you have a caregiver relationship with children in DHS custody, we can help you intervene in the case so that you can participate in the court process.

Guardianships – Oregon’s Probate Courts can appoint a guardian to protect the safety and well being of minor children and incapacitated adults – adults who are unable to manage their own physical needs and/or health care. If an adult is unable to manage their own financial affairs, the Court may appoint a Conservator or a Fiduciary.

Guardianships for children – when a parent can’t adequately care for their children, someone needs to step in. However, reporting a struggling family member or loved one to DHS is difficult decision with lots of questions attached. Where will the children go? Will they stay at home, or go to a friend or relative? Will the children be placed in a foster home? For how long?

At PDX Law Group, we understand that not every situation calls for a full blown Juvenile Dependency case in the Juvenile Court. There are a lot of good reasons why a guardianship can be a good alternative. Call us to learn more.

Delinquency

Juvenile Courts handle delinquency matters ranging from status offenses like curfew violations, to misdemeanors like shoplifting, to serious felonies like drug crimes and sex offenses. Youths accused or convicted of crimes can face serious consequences such as being placed in Juvenile Detention jail or even being sent to an Oregon Youth Authority prison. Sometimes the consequences of juvenile convictions last long into adulthood.

PDX Law Group understands the Juvenile Court process. We know that the Juvenile Courts exist, in part, to rehabilitate youths so that they do not get in trouble again. Juvenile Courts have programs to keep youths out of court, to reduce the charges a youth is facing, or to remove charges from their record. However, each county offers different programs and options. The best way to be confident your case is being treated fairly is to be represented by an experienced attorney. We have helped hundreds of youths in Oregon:

Understand and protect their rights: Youths have the same rights as adult criminal defendants. Youths have the right not to answer questions from the police. Youths have the right to be represented by an attorney. Youths have the right to know what they are being charged with, or what they are being arrested for. A youth charged with a crime has the right to plead not guilty, the right to a trial where the State must prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt – just like an adult. The only major right juveniles don’t have is the right to a jury trial; instead, the Juvenile Court judge decides whether the State has proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Get out of custody and stay out of custody: Juvenile Detention jail custody is supposed to be used as a last resort. In many circumstances, the law says a youth CANNOT be held in custody. There are almost always options to get a youth out of custody, but it often takes the help, participation, and supervision of family members and other adults. At PDX Law Group, we know what a Juvenile Court expects from a supervised release plan, we know how to put one together, and we know how to get it into court and argue it to a judge.

Stay out of Court: Many counties have Diversion programs or other ways to work with a youth informally, so that official charges are not filed.

Keep cases in Juvenile Court: In some situations a youth could be charged as a juvenile or as an adult. It is almost always preferable to keep charges against a youth in Juvenile Court instead of adult court. There are more Diversion, treatment, counseling and other programs, and the damage from a juvenile conviction is generally less than a comparable adult conviction.

Shield youths from questioning by police and other government investigators: Every youth has the right to refuse to answer police questions, but the police are experienced in convincing youths (and adults!) to waive that right. An attorney can help by making sure they know the youth has legal representation and does not consent to answering any questions.

Fight the charges: There are many reasons to go to trial in the Juvenile Court. If a youth is innocent, of course they should demand a trial. Sometimes the State can’t prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If the State is using illegally obtained evidence, the youth has the right to keep it out of court. Witness statements in a police report may not hold up under cross examination. PDX Law Group has the experience to evaluate the facts and develop the best strategy at trial.