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Child Deprivation in Georgia: Prevention and Consequences

In Georgia, a deprived child is “one who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for one’s physical, mental or emotional health or morals; or one who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or one who has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian; or one who is without a parent, guardian or custodian.” (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-2)

‘Child’ means any individual who is: (A) Under the age of 17 years;(B) Under the age of 21 years, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years, and who has been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court; or (C) Under the age of 18 years, if alleged to be a ‘deprived child’ or a ‘status offender’ as defined by this Code section. A deprivation case can be initiated by several different parties including DFACS, Police, schools, relatives, or medical providers.

In some instances deprivations are committed by teenage parents or even adult parents who are scared or do not know how to deal with an infant or child. In order to save some of these children, Georgia is one of the many states that have a safe haven law to give children a chance.

Georgia’s safe haven law can be found in Georgia Code Section 19-10A-4. It says, “A mother shall not be prosecuted for the crimes of cruelty to a child, Code Section 16-5-70; contributing to the delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a child, Code Section 16-12-1; or abandonment of a dependent child, Code Section 19-10-1, because of the act of leaving her newborn child in the physical custody of an employee, agent, or member of the staff of a medical facility who is on duty, whether they’re in a paid or volunteer position, provided that the newborn child is no more than one week old and the mother shows proof of her identity, if available, to the person with whom the newborn is left and provides her name and address.”  In other words, in Georgia it is not a crime, and you cannot be prosecuted for leaving a newborn at the hospital.

The safe haven law is just one example of how the state can combat depravations and it is only where infants are concerned. Other ways that the state tries to help families who may enter the legal system because of depravation are Case Plans and Homestead Services.

A Case Plan is “a written agreement that defines those actions that will allow a family to achieve a level of functioning, ensures protection and safety of children and eliminates, or significantly decreases, the risk of maltreatment. It includes developing measurable and specific outcomes directly related to the maltreatment and to risk reduction. Outcomes/goals are broken down into specific steps with time frames for accomplishment and review.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)

Homestead Services are the Department of Family and Children’s Services’ (DFACS) “most intensive family preservation service. It is a contracted service. It is a family focused, crisis-oriented, short-term (180 days), intensive in-home counseling program for families with children at risk of foster care placement. Homestead Services may also be provided to families who are ready for reunification.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)

Ultimately, if the family preservation plans do not work parental rights can be terminated. What happens when parental rights are terminated? “An order terminating parental rights ends all rights and obligations of the parent with respect to the child and/or the child to the parent, including the right of inheritance. The parent will have no right to object or not object to the future adoption of that child into another home. The termination of one parent’s rights with respect to the child has no effect on the rights of another legal parent to the care and control of that child.” (http://dhs.georgia.gov)

So avoiding having a deprivation case initiated against you is important because the implications could be dire. Once that has happened, though, deprivation proceedings can be tricky and hard to navigate, they also move fast, much faster than cases in the adult criminal or civil system. If your child has been taken away, and/or you are facing a deprivation case we can help. Call us today at (404) 287-2393 for a consultation.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

(Photo: safehavenlaws.uslegal.com)

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: What is Juvenile Deprivation?

Question: A relative has filed a complaint with the Department of Family and Children’s Services against me for “juvenile deprivation” of my 16-year-old who skips school all the time, is doing drugs and sleeps her days away. What is juvenile deprivation and could my daughter be taken from me?

Answer In Georgia, a deprived child is “One who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for one’s physical, mental or emotional health or morals; or one who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or one who has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian; or one who is without a parent, guardian or custodian.” (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-2)

‘Child’ means any individual who is: (A) Under the age of 17 years; (B) Under the age of 21 years, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years, and who has been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court; or (C) Under the age of 18 years, if alleged to be a ‘deprived child’ or a ‘status offender’ as defined by this Code section.

A deprivation case can be initiated by several different parties including the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFACS), Police, schools, relatives, or medical providers. If the child is removed, there must be a hearing within in 72 hours. After a deprivation proceeding is initiated, it can be a short process if no deprivation is found. But, it can be a long process if deprivation is found. The process can lead to either reunification or termination of parental rights, depending on findings.

A juvenile court judge will determine if a parent has deprived their child at an adjudication hearing. If so, a case plan will be implemented by the Court upon the parent and the child before reunification is possible. If a parent’s parental rights are terminated, the parent no longer has legal or custody rights of the child. The child will be taken out the parent’s home permanently with no hope of reunification.

Deprivation proceedings can be tricky and hard to navigate; they also move fast, much faster than cases in the adult criminal or civil system. If your child has been taken away, and/or you are facing a deprivation case we can help. Please call The Boddie Law Firm, LLC at 404-287-2393 for a consultation.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

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What are the implications of truancy for your children?

Photo. The Telegraph.co.uk

Truancy in Georgia and around the country has long been a problem. By truancy, we are not talking about a couple of days playing “hookie” or participating in senior skip day. Truancy is habitual violation of compulsory school attendance laws. Georgia, along with the rest of the United States, has a compulsory attendance law. In Georgia it is required that children attend public, private, or homeschooling between their 6th and 16th birthday unless they have completed all the requirements for a high school diploma. (GA Code § 20-2-690.1)

Beyond the fact that there is a correlation between school attendance and the grades a student receives, there are other consequences for both the parents and the students. For students, they can end up in juvenile court and face confinement in a juvenile facility. In addition to being involved in the juvenile court system for truancy, the truancy may lead to other disciplinary and criminal issues.  Parents may face criminal charges and monetary fines.

Although the state is trying to help combat truancy, in general, the fight against truancy is handled on the local level. According to the State Attendance Protocol Committee, “In order to address truancy and attendance, Georgia state law (HB 1190) now requires that communities and schools work together to address truancy through the recommendations of their local Student Attendance Protocol Committee, which have two goals set forth in law:

Ensure coordination and cooperation among officials, agencies, and programs involved in compulsory attendance issues, to reduce the number of unexcused absences from school and Increase the percentage of students who take tests required under state law.“

Attendance is important because if a child is not in school, they will miss an opportunity to learn.  As parents, and members of the community at large, we want our children to have the best opportunities available.  We want our children to achieve and excel.

If you are facing charges as a juvenile or parent for truancy-related issues, feel free to contact us for a consultation at (404) 287-2393.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

(Photo Link: http://bit.ly/XqkBMI)

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: Do I have to make my children go to school in Georgia?

Photo: PE.com

Question: Do I have to make my children go to school in Georgia?

Answer: Yes, you must make sure your child gets some form of schooling until they are 16 years old in Georgia.

In Georgia, it is required that children attend public, private, or homeschooling between their 6th and 16th birthday unless they have completed all the requirements for a high school diploma. (GA Code § 20-2-690.1)

Schools may coordinate with other agencies and officers to secure a warrant for the arrest of a parent of a student age five to sixteen to the Magistrate Court for failure to comply with the compulsory attendance provisions of Georgia law and refer a parent to the department of Family and Children Services for suspicion or indications of abuse/neglect.

Violation of the compulsory attendance law is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by fine in the range of $25-$100 and imprisonment up to 30 days and/or community service or any combination of the three. Additionally, each group of 5 days of unexcused absences will be considered a separate offense.

Different Counties have different ways of dealing with truancy when older students are concerned.  In Cobb County, students are referred to the Cobb County Juvenile Court by the Cobb County School District and are cited with a violation of O.C.G.A 20-2-612. Some cases are reviewed by the judge, others are sent to the Court’s mediation program.  For their truancy, students face the possibility of probation, community service, fines, drug screens and prison tours.

Additionally, in some cases the student is given a curfew. Students who are placed on probation and then miss school may be required to serve time in a juvenile facility. Students who are suspected of gang involvement or substance abuse are referred to specialized programs within the Court for assessment.

In Fulton County, the school social worker will file an unruly/truancy or educational neglect petition with the Fulton County Juvenile Court and if the case meets the necessary requirements, it will be assigned to a probation officer in the Truancy Intervention Project’s Probation Unit.  If the case does not meet TIP’s requirements, it will be assigned to a probation officer outside the TIP Unit and a public defender or other legal counsel will be appointed to represent the child.  The matter will then be scheduled on the juvenile court’s calendar.

If assigned to the TIP Unit, the case will be assigned to a TIP probation officer and scheduled on the juvenile court’s calendar.  A TIP volunteer will be assigned to serve as a legal advocate or guardian ad litem for the student based on whether the case is a truancy or educational neglect case. The case is then heard by a presiding or associate juvenile court judge.

If  the is child found truant and adjudicated unruly/ungovernable, the child may be placed on supervision with the court and subject to dispositions for unruly children pursuant to O.C.G.A. 15-11-67.  If the child fails to comply with the court’s order, a violation of supervision charge shall be filed by the juvenile court probation officer.

If your child is charged with truancy or you’re faced with charges related to your child’s truancy, please call The Boddie Law Firm for a complete consultation on your legal matter.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

(Photo: PE.com–http://bit.ly/TP6pYx)

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Girls Served Poorly By the Juvenile Justice System, Say Authors

Written by Maggie Lee, September 7, 2012 for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

A pair of new scholarly articles say nominally neutral rules in the juvenile justice system can actually fail girls, especially, emphasizes one author, young women of color.

Discrimination is sort of hidden, said Professor Francine Sherman, director of the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Project at Boston College Law School and author of the paper “Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress?

“If there were laws on the books that said we’re going to do one thing for girls and another thing for boys, that would be challengeable” in court, she said. Instead, the discrimination is in practice, where “we do one thing for girls and one thing for boys.” For example, in some states minors are still subject to criminal prostitution charges, a charge that disproportionately falls on females, and can make them less likely to run away from their exploiters.

Both Sherman and a colleague point out that girls are more likely than boys to be locked up for the status violation of running away. “Most of the girls are running away from abuse,” said Jyoti Nanda, author of “Blind Discretion: Girls of Color and Delinquency in the Juvenile Justice System” and core faculty member in both the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law Program and the Critical Race Studies Program at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. “Most of the homeless girls are victims of violence,” she said. “They’re less likely to run away just for the purpose of leaving,” and if they leave, it is a sign of something deeply wrong.

“There doesn’t seem to be an awareness on the part of any of the players [in the juvenile justice system] on what uniquely impacts the girls,” said Nanda. Girls’ brains develop earlier than boys’ do. So do their bodies, which can bring unwanted attention.

The key difficulty for Nanda is discretion—judges and law enforcement officers have great power over the fate of girls they encounter. The system was designed with good intentions, she said, recalling a time when wayward youths would be sent to parents with only a warning. But it doesn’t work like that, she said. Instead, a few people have unchecked power over each juvenile.

And in that wide space of discretion stereotypes are at work against females, Nanda argued — widespread cultural beliefs about women of various races.

“Why would juvenile justice system actors be immune from the same stereotypes we have?” she asked.

There’s data on distorted treatment of both black boys in the juvenile justice system and women of color in the adult system, but the combination of young, female and black is not well documented. Nanda said there is no discussion, no place to talk, write or think about girls of color in the system.

Yet her paper does cite studies that found examples of young women of color receiving harsher punishment for the same crime as white girls; and of probation officers perceiving white, Hispanic and black girls differently.

Jurisdictions would be eager to study gender distortions and incorporate them into their work, Sherman said, but it would mean looking critically at lots of decision data over time. “That’s a hard thing to do in the every day hustle and bustle,” she said.

There are resource and time constraints as well as a perception that there are more pressing things to focus on, Sherman argued, and called on the federal government to provide leadership and technical assistance to jurisdictions so they can gather and analyze their data.

But Sherman emphasized that she is optimistic. “We’re in a much better place now for young women in the system than we were a decade ago,” she said, pointing out that some jurisdictions have reduced overall detention of all youth and that decision-makers are making allowances for youths’ still-in-progress cognitive development and the effects of trauma on youth behavior. “But,” she continued, “this is the time to really push forward simply because we have a much better foundation with which to make these improvements.”

Nanda is not so optimistic. Because juvenile justice officials have so much discretion, she believes “leadership probably has to come from the juvenile court.” But she also pointed out that judges and lawyers of the future are unlikely to see law school offerings on race, juvenile criminal law and gender; much less the intersection of those.

The papers were presented for the UCLA Law Review’s 2012 symposium, Overpoliced and Underprotected: Women, Race, and Criminalization.

(Photo: UCLA Law Review)

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights, like those related to this article posted on JJIE.org, reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

 

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: How Is Georgia’s Juvenile Court System Different from Adult Court?

In order to discuss the Georgia juvenile court, we must first discuss the history of the juvenile court. The origins of the juvenile court system in the United States can be traced back to the late 1800’s and social reform. The first juvenile court was established in Illinois in 1899.

Generally, there are two arms of the juvenile court. The first is to deal with crimes that are committed by juveniles (delinquency). At the time of the creation of juvenile courts, there was a realization that children are different from adults and should not be held to the same standards. The other arm of the juvenile court is for protection of children (depravation). By 1945, every state in the United States had a juvenile court.

The main distinctions between juvenile court and regular courts are that juvenile courts are based on individual treatment and rehabilitation, they have civil jurisdiction, the process is more informal, confidentiality, separation of adult and juvenile offenders, and speed. Juvenile cases move much more quickly than adult cases.  Each state has its own body of juvenile laws that governs their courts.

Georgia’s Juvenile Laws are found in Title 15, Chapter 11 of Georgia’s Annotated Code.

According to O.C.G.A § 15-11-2: the meaning of “child” is:

“Any individual who is under the age of 17; under the age of 21, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching 17, and who had been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court; or under the age of 18 for depravation purposes.”

In other words depending on why an individual comes into the juvenile court changes the age under which they are considered a child.

If you or someone you know is facing a proceeding in juvenile court whether depravation or delinquency please do not hesitate to contact us. Juvenile courts move fast and you do not have a lot of time act.  We can help resolve the situation for the child and family involved.

 

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. All other copyrights reserved by their owners. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: School Personnel Searched My Son After Suspecting Him in Crime

Question: My son’s school in Cobb County, GA suspected him of theft so they searched his backpack, locker, and car. Can they do that?

Answer: Yes they can. Although students still have rights while they are school, the standard is not as heightened as it would be if they were in some other setting. Campus police officers and campus resource officers who have a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed have the authority to search the student’s backpack, locker and car. In fact, Georgia case law supports such searches. An example is found in Young v. State 132 Ga App 790.

In Young v. State, an assistant principal of a public high school directed the defendant, a 17-year-old student at that school, to empty his pockets in the principal’s office. The defendant had less than an ounce of marijuana in his pocket, for which he was charged and convicted. While recognizing the rule as to private individuals, the Court of Appeals held that the school official was a government officer subject to the restraints of the Fourth Amendment and that the evidence should have been suppressed. The Supreme Court reversed, taking the approach that a “reasonable suspicion” standard was enough for such a search and that the standard of probable cause would not apply. The Court additionally held that an assistant high school principal is not a “public officer” or “law enforcement officer” so as to permit suppression, in prosecution of a student, of marijuana found on the student’s person by an assistant principal conducting a personal search not without cause, but with less than probable cause for a police search. Young was followed in State v. Lamb,where a dormitory supervisor found marijuana plants growing in a dormitory room. This search was likewise upheld.*

Thus, searches of students, when there is probable cause to suspect a student of a crime, are allowed by Georgia law. Moreover, school authorities are able to search their car when it is parked on school property. The Campus officers also are allowed to question students and do not necessarily have to Mirandize them (read them their Miranda rights). The line is drawn at strip searches. In most cases the Campus officers are not allowed to strip search students.

Although the procedures are lessened when on school property, students still have the right to due process of the law and certain confessions that are made in school settings without Miranda warnings cannot be used in criminal proceedings without evidence that confirms their validity.

Any arrest or charge relating from an incident at school should be taken seriously. If your son or a child you know is facing criminal charges in Georgia arising from an incident at school or at a school sponsored event please give The Boddie Law Firm a call at (404) 287-2393 for a full legal consultation.

*From Westlaw

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm, LLC. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner.

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit–Teen Charged Under the Designated Felony Act

Question: My teenager was arrested for aggravated battery and his lawyer keeps telling me that the State is charging him under the Designated Felony Act. What does that mean?

Answer: The Designated Felony Act (DFA) under Georgia State Code, Section O.C.G.A. 15-11-63, is the children between the ages of 13-17 may be charged with if they have committed a second offense for such charges of arson, kidnapping, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, arson in the second degree, robbery, armed robbery not involving a firearm, attempted murder or attempted kidnapping.

DFA refers to the type of custody the child will be restricted to in the event that they admit to the charges or if they are convicted of the offense. A child facing a DFA will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 12 months in restrictive custody and faces a maximum of 60 months.

The term “restrictive custody” means that the child is monitored under intense supervision. The child will not be allowed to have any outside visitors for the first 6 months of that restrictive custody absent any emergency or medical needs.

Therefore, a child being pursued under the DFA statute is facing serious time in custody and should engage an attorney to defend them.

Please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at 404-287-2393 if your child needs legal representation for an offense under the Designated Felony Act or if you just have more questions about the DFA.

 

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated.

 

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