Ohio Groups Fight for Changes in When Kids Facing Criminal Charges Get Lawyers

May 15, 2017

The ACLU of Ohio successfully led a campaign in 2012 to require juveniles facing a felony to talk with a lawyer before waiving their right to an attorney. Now, they want to expand it to all cases.
Credit ESB PROFESSIONAL / SHUTTERSTOCK

A group of juvenile advocates is asking Ohio’s top court to require that kids speak to a lawyer before they’re asked if they wish to waive attorney representation.

Mike Brickner with the ACLU of Ohio says there are cases when a parent, guardian or even judge might think the best thing would be to pass on having an attorney to speed up the process.

“I think that there are a lot of well-meaning judges out there who want to do that who care about those young people. But I think it’s incredibly important to have their own independent advocates,” he said.

Young people facing felony charges are already required to speak to an attorney before they decide whether they want to waive counsel. The ACLU, Children’s Law Center and Office of the Ohio Public Defender wants that extended for any criminal charges.