Waiver of counsel, 2014

A juvenile may waive his or her right to counsel only after consulting with a knowledgeable adult who has no interest adverse to the juvenile and the waiver must be found to be knowingly and voluntarily made.

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

    Under 0

  • Crime

    No restrictions

  • Hearing

    No restrictions

  • Placement

    No restrictions

Timing of counsel, 2013

In Tennessee, an attorney for a juvenile can be appointed at the following points in the process: 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

Organized at the local level (county/judicial district) with varying state oversight

Organizer: District Public Defender Conference (Additional detail concerning the organization and administration of juvenile defense is available in a state profile from the National Juvenile Defender Center.)

Indigency is not determined legislatively

In Tennessee, juvenile indigency law is governed by juvenile statutes, juvenile court rules, and adult statutes, which provide a determination of indigency and some well-thought-out definitions. 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.

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

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Tennessee HB 626/S 608 was introduced in 2015

Collateral consequences, 2014

By Juvenile Court rule of Procedure, before accepting a plea, the court must address the juvenile personally in open court and inform them on a range of collateral consequences for an adjudication. Specifics of what the court must address include:

  1. The nature of the charge to which the plea is offered and the possible dispositional consequences of the admission
  2. If a specific disposition is the basis of the plea, the juvenile should be informed specifically of the nature of that disposition.

The Rule includes further procedural protections related to the procedural safeguards and rights a youth has if the matter goes to trial as further consequences of entering a guilty plea.

  • Reflects laws as of the end of 2014 legislative sessions.

Sex offender registration, 2015


Competency, 2015

In Tennessee, the Rules of Juvenile Procedure include when a child is believed to be “mentally incompetent to proceed with [a delinquency or unruly] adjudication hearing.” Tennessee does not specifically define ‘incompetent to proceed’ using both Dusky standard elements. There is no statutory requirement to appoint an attorney for juveniles in this position. The court has discretion to stay proceedings pending a determination of the child’s mental condition. If mental illness is alleged during the course of transfer proceedings, however, the court shall order examination, because youth cannot be transferred if considered ‘committable’ to an institution for the developmentally disabled or mentally ill. A rebuttable presumption exists that evidence of commission of felonious acts or recidivistic delinquency is sufficient to sustain a finding that the child is in need of treatment or rehabilitation.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

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.

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