Defense structure, 2017

  • Organization


  • Oversight

    No oversight

California provides counsel to indigent youth through a county-based system which includes public defender offices, contract attorneys, and private appointed attorneys.  Visit the National Juvenile Defender Center's California state profile for more details.

Waiver of counsel, 2014

In a case in which a juvenile is alleged to be delinquent, the juvenile may waive the right of counsel if the waiver is deemed to be an intelligent waiver.

  • Restrictions on waivers
  • No restrictions
  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2013 legislative sessions.
  • Age

    No restrictions

  • Crime

    No restrictions

  • Hearing

    No restrictions

  • Placement

    No restrictions

Timing of counsel, 2013

In California, an attorney for a juvenile can be appointed at the following points in the process: Custodial Questioning / Talk with Intake Officer; Detention Hearing / First Court Appearance / Arraignment; Once a Petition is Filed / Hearing on the Petition; Loss of Freedom / Institutionalization / Commitment / Imprisonment; All Stages of Proceedings / All Critical States of Proceedings.

  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2013 legislative sessions.

Indigency requirements, 2013

Indigency determination: Judicially

California indigency law is governed by juvenile statutes, which provide for a determination of indigency. Indigency is judicially determined. Court can / must appoint attorney for juvenile if non-indigent parent refuses to pay for juvenile's attorney. Court can / must appoint attorney for juvenile if there is a conflict of interest between the juvenile and the parent. Specialized juvenile training available or required.

Progressive data

The Juvenile Justice in California annual report series reports comprehensively on juvenile defense.  The report includes data on proportions of youth unrepresented, and those with private counsel, court appointed counsel, and public defenders.  The report includes additional analyses by gender, race/ethnicity, and age.

Defense representation, 2014

Report excerpt, 2014 Juvenile Justice in California (p. 38).

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

Continue reading »


Tell us what you think of JJGPS. Questions, feedback, or other comments are welcomed.

Questions or feedback »

Follow on Twitter »