Right to counsel

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Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

For parents, Va. Code § 16.1–266(D) states:


A judge, clerk or probation officer shall inform the parent or guardian of his right to counsel prior to the adjudicatory hearing of a petition in which a child is alleged to be abused or neglected or at risk of abuse or neglect as provided in subdivision A 2a of § 16.1-241 and prior to a hearing at which a parent could be subjected to the loss of residual parental rights. In addition, prior to the hearing by the court of any case involving any other adult charged with abuse or neglect of a child, this adult shall be informed of his right to counsel ...  Prior to a hearing at which a child is the subject of an initial foster care plan filed pursuant to § 16.1-281, a foster care review hearing pursuant to § 16.1-282 and a permanency planning hearing pursuant to § 16.1-282.1, the court shall consider appointing counsel to represent the child's parent or guardian.


See also Va. Code 16.1-252(C) (at emergency order hearing, “All parties to the hearing shall be informed of their right to counsel pursuant to § 16.1-266.”) 


Section 16.1–266(D) goes on to state that the parent has the right to retained counsel, appointed counsel if indigent, or waiver of counsel (as provided in § 19.2-160), and that the court must consider appointing counsel for an absent parent/guardian.  See also Va. Code § 16.1-281(F) (“The court shall appoint an attorney to act as guardian ad litem to represent the child any time a hearing is held to review the foster care plan filed for the child or to review the child's status in foster care”).

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no