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Juvenile Division 

Juvenile Rule 3 – Protecting a child’s right to be represented by counsel Effective July 1, 2012

  • Specifically lists instances in which a child cannot waive their right to counsel

    • Bindover proceeding

    • Serious Youthful Offender proceeding

    • When there is a conflict or disagreement with parent, guardian, or custodian; or, if the parent, guardian, or custodian asked that the child be removed from the home

  • Requires the juvenile court to inform a child of their right to counsel and the disadvantages of self-representation

  • In all felony cases, the child cannot waive their right to counsel unless they have consulted with an attorney

Click here for a copy of Juvenile Rule 3.

Click here for a manual, produced by Children’s Law Center, Inc., discussing the implementation of the new version of Juvenile Rule 3.

Governor Kasich signs H.B. 86

On June 29, 2011, Governor Kasich signed H.B. 86 into law. The bill was widely touted as a first step in criminal and juvenile justice reform. A few highlights from the sentencing reform bill that are specific to juveniles:

  • A Reverse Transfer provision for kids who were subject to mandatory bindover due to the charged offense, but plead guilty or are convicted of a lesser offense. Depending on the circumstances, the child will return to juvenile court for either a juvenile disposition, an SYO sentence, or an amenability hearing to determine if they will remain in the juvenile system. If the child is sentenced in juvenile court, their adult conviction will be expunged, and the felony will be considered for all purposes as a juvenile adjudication. Click here for a Fact Sheet.

  • Gun Specifications: If a child is found to be complicit in an offense, and did not provide, use, or dispose of the firearm, the court will have discretion to sentence that child to DYS for a gun specification for a period of up to one year. Previously, kids were being sentenced to up to three years of mandatory time even though they didn’t actually possess the firearm or potentially even know that their co-defendant had a firearm at the time of the offense. Click here for a Fact Sheet.

  • Judicial Release: Judges will be able to grant early release to kids serving gun specification time in DYS after one year, and grant early release to kids in DYS after the completion of their minimum sentence. Click here for a Fact Sheet.

  • Competency – Ohio now has a juvenile competency standard and statutes that apply to kids. Click here for a Fact Sheet.

These new provisions will go into effect September 30, 2011.

Vision Statement

The Ohio Public Defender Juvenile Division is a leader in effective advocacy for juveniles in Ohio’s justice system. The Juvenile Division is a team of talented professionals focused primarily on post-disposition advocacy and ensuring that the constitutional rights of children are fully realized and protected. We steadily work toward a holistic approach to helping youth in the justice system and believe that the value of our advocacy extends beyond a juvenile’s duration of confinement. The Division strives to remain at the forefront of the struggle for systemic improvement in juvenile justice through statewide and national collaboration and involvement in policy, education, professional development, and reform initiatives. Our commitment to these efforts protects juveniles' right to be represented by counsel, raises the quality of representation, and promotes the just and humane treatment of juveniles in the legal system.

About the Juvenile Division

The Office of the Ohio Public Defender created a Juvenile Section, a sub-part of the Legal Division, in 1993 in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS). In 2002, the Juvenile Section won reversals for over 50 juvenile cases due to improper procedures.

The contract with ODYS has since ended, and the Juvenile Section was phased out of the office in 2002 due to budget cuts. After the study Justice Cut Short: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings in Ohio was released in 2003 by the American Bar Association and the Central Juvenile Defender Center, the office was able to regain funding from the General Assembly that was specifically designated to re-create the Juvenile Section.  Since 2004, the office has maintained a Memorandum of Understanding with ODYS, that allows our attorneys legal access to ODYS facilities and the youth they incarcerate.  The Juvenile Division attorneys represent youth on fact or duration of confinement issues.

In January 2008, Ohio Public Defender Tim Young promoted the Juvenile Section to its own Division, similar in stature to the Legal and Death Penalty Divisions in the office.  The Juvenile Division currently represents youth, who range in age from ten to twenty-one years old, who have been committed to the Ohio Department of Youth Services on appeal, post-conviction matters, detention credit issues, sex offender registration issues, and early release.  The attorneys in the Juvenile Division also enjoy collaborating with local counsel and county public defender offices and accept cases for appeal on emerging legal issues. 

Juvenile Division Attorneys
Jill Beeler Chief Counsel, Juvenile Division
Amanda Powell Section Supervisor
Laura Austen Assistant State Public Defender
Charlyn Bohland Assistant State Public Defender
Brooke Burns Assistant State Public Defender
Katherine Lazarow Assistant State Public Defender
Matthew Trent Assistant State Public Defender
Sheryl Trzaska Assistant State Public Defender
Support Staff
Heather Pugh Administrative Assistant
Sheana Mershon Legal Secretary

Juvenile News

ACLU seeks end to shackling juveniles

(The Columbus Dispatch © 3/10/2014)

(Subscription may be required for article access)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today asked the Ohio Supreme Court to prohibit juvenile courts from shackling children during court appearances without first conducting hearings.

OP-ED: Imagining a Real Journey Through Detention For No Crime

(Juvenile Justice Information Exchange © 2/24/2014)

Imagine you’re a parent of a 15-year-old girl. You held her in your arms, taught her to walk, kissed her “boo-boos,” read her fairy tales. Then suddenly, without warning, she becomes defiant.

Court eases youth-prison oversight

(The Columbus Dispatch © 9/19/2013)

(Subscription may be required for article access)

A federal judge yesterday ended most of his court-ordered monitoring of Ohio’s youth-prison system while ruling that oversight of mental-health services and units for students with behavioral issues must continue.

US: Teens in Solitary Confinement

(Human Rights Watch © 10/10/2012)

Young people are held in solitary confinement in jails and prisons across the United States, often for weeks or months at a time, Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a report released today.

Ohio Justices Require Legal Consult For Juveniles

( © 6/30/2012)

The Ohio Supreme Court has approved rules requiring certain juvenile offenders facing the possibility of detention to consult with an attorney before deciding to waive their right to a lawyer.

New Ohio law to help youth offenders by reducing work, education hardships

(Youngstown Vindicator © 6/27/2012)

A new law intended to help adult convicts re-enter society also has implications for youth offenders, likely making it easier for them to secure jobs, housing and education, say local officials.

See: Children's Law Center - Fact Sheet

Justices Bar Mandatory Life Terms for Juveniles

(The New York Times © 6/25/2012)

Some 2,000 juvenile offenders serving life sentences without parole were given hope of eventual release by the Supreme Court on Monday. The court ruled that laws requiring youths convicted of murder to be sentenced to die in prison violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

See: Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth - Fact Sheet

See: United States Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama

›› More: News


Safe Harbor Information for Defenders
Video US: Teens in Solitary Confinement
Video Highlights Need for Reform of Ohio's Juvenile Justice System

Video Litigation and Advocacy: Keys to Creating an Effective Post-Disposition System in Ohio

Sealing and Expunging Juvenile
Court Records
Juvenile Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law

Protecting a Juvenile's Right to be Represented by Counsel

Standards of Representation of Clients
in Juvenile Delinquency Cases

Juvenile Rights in the Criminal Justice

Credit for Detention Time

Suspension of Juveniles' Future Right to Obtain a Driver's License 



Juvenile Cases Pending on the Merits in the Supreme Court if Ohio

Juvenile Cases Recently Decided in the Supreme Court of Ohio

Juvenile Sample Motions

Juvenile Internet Links



“[N]either the Fourteenth Amendment nor the Bill of Rights is for adults alone.”

“Under our Constitution, the condition
of being a boy does not justify a
kangaroo court.”

“Unless appropriate due process of law is followed, even the juvenile who has violated the law may not feel that he is being fairly treated and may therefore resist the rehabilitative efforts
of court personnel.”

In re Gault (1967), 387 U.S. 1 

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