Unfortunately, there are times when youth find themselves in need of an attorney. When seeking a juvenile attorney it is important to select an attorney who is both a zealous advocate, but who also knows the nuances of working with youth and their developmental needs. We provide representation in the following areas of juvenile law:
Washington’s Becca Bill
Elizabeth Arwood provides representation to youth and parents in all three areas of law created by the Becca Bill: At Risk Youth (ARY), Children in Need of Services (CHINS), and Truancy. The Becca Bill was passed in 1996 after the parents of a 13 year-old youth, Rebecca went to the juvenile court for help, because they thought their daughter was out of control. Becca was known as Misty on the streets and had ran away to Spokane and was working as a prostitute. The Court could not help them because Becca had not committed a juvenile offense, and no legal remedy existed at the time within the juvenile courts. Unfortunately, Becca was murdered. The law was intended to help youth and their parents, but it created a class of status offenses (ARY, CHINS and Truancy) where youth can be incarcerated in juvenile detention without having committed a juvenile offense/crime. Because there is a risk of incarceration for youth in any of the Becca Bill proceedings, it is necessary for the youth to have an attorney. Parents may also want to seek an attorney for help navigate the process.
At Risk Youth (ARY)
An At Risk Youth petition is a request from a youth’s (a person under the age of 18) parent or legal guardian to the Juvenile Court to help in maintaining the care, custody, and control of the child. At least one of the following conditions must be met:
- The youth is or has been absent from the home for at least 72 consecutive hours without parental consent.
- The youth is beyond parental control to the extent that his/her behavior threatens the health, safety or welfare of the child or any other person
- The youth has a substance abuse problem for which there are no pending criminal charges related to the substance abuse.
Children in Need of Services (CHINS)
CHINS petitions may be filed by a child under 18, parent/legal guardian, or the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
The purpose of a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) petition is to obtain a court order placing a child in a residence other than the home of the child’s parent because a serious conflict exists between the parent and child. Reasonable efforts must first be made to prevent removal of the child from the parental home. The placement is temporary, and the goal of CHINS is reunification of the family.
Washington law requires youth from age 8 to 17 to attend a public school, private school, or to receive home-based instruction. Children who are 6 or 7 years old are not required to be enrolled in school. However, if parents enroll their 6 or 7 year old in school, the student must attend full-time. The Becca Bill makes provisions regarding mandatory attendance and provides remedies for schools when youth are not attending school as required. When certain conditions are met, a school district may file a truancy petition in juvenile court with the hope of compelling a child to attend school by court order. If the youth violates a court order, the youth may be found in contempt, and can face a sanction of juvenile detention time. Parents of youth may also be monetarily fined.
Juvenile Offender Defense
Elizabeth Arwood provides defense of youth who have been accused of committing a juvenile offense (crime). Elizabeth has experience with many types of criminal matters, and provides a complimentary 30 minute consultation for youth who have been accused of a juvenile offense. Elizabeth also has experience with motions to vacate a juvenile conviction and motions to seal juvenile records.
Education Law Issues
A youth and his/her parents may need assistance from an attorney with a variety of education law issues including Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), ADA 504 Plans, and school disciplinary actions.
A dependency petition is a court action generally filed by the Department of Social and Health Services, represented by the Attorney General’s Office; however, it can be filed by any person. A dependency petition alleges that a child has been abandoned, abused or neglected, and/or that there is no parent, guardian or custodian capable of capable of adequately caring for the child such that the child is in circumstances which constitute a danger of substantial damage to the child’s psychological or physical development. Elizabeth Arwood provides representation to youth and parents in all stages of the dependency process.
Guardian Ad Litem Services
Elizabeth Arwood is currently on the Clark County Guardian Ad Litem Registry for Title 26 family law cases and is accepting retained GAL cases. A guardian ad litem in a family law matter is generally appointed to serve the best interests of a child in the court proceeding.