Posted December 17, 2013 10:19 am - Updated December 17, 2013 10:23 am

Greater protections coming for children

With the New Year will come new rights for children in Georgia.


The state is enacting a major overhaul of its juvenile code, but I just want to highlight one key change.


Starting Jan. 1, the new law requires Georgia juvenile courts to appoint an attorney to each and every child suspected of suffering abuse and neglect, a move which clears away any confusion or doubt as to whether these children are entitled to an attorney.


As way of background, juvenile courts generally oversee two types of cases – (1) cases in which children commit a delinquent act, which is an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult, and (2) cases in which there are allegations that the children are being abused or neglected.


In the first type of case, children are already guaranteed an attorney.


However, in the second type, everybody except the children are currently guaranteed an attorney in most Georgia juvenile courts. An attorney represents the Department of Family and Children Services in proving the allegations and an attorney is appointed to represent any parent alleged to have deprived a child who cannot afford one to defend against the allegations.


But that will soon change with the addition of the child attorney, giving greater voice to children most in need of having a voice.


For a look at the other changes coming in Georgia juvenile courts with the new overhaul, here is a link to a quick rundown of these changes:


Know Your Rights is a blog written by Gregory J. Gelpi, an Augusta attorney and owner of The Gelpi Law Firm, P.C. For more information about Greg, go to or contact him at

Know Your Rights is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. To obtain legal advice, speak with an attorney. The law varies from state to state and outcomes of individual legal matters can vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances. This blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between either the author of this blog or any attorney included in this blog and any reader of this blog.