Going to Court (Youth)
An advocate can support your child and family by being there when you have to go to court. We know court can be scary and confusing. The court process can also take time. Advocates are here to walk alongside you as long as the process takes.
Your family might be involved in a criminal court proceeding or a civil proceeding. Criminal court proceedings are when a person has been charged with a crime and the State of Indiana is pursuing consequences for the offender. In this situation, you and your child are considered witnesses and might be required to speak about the incident(s) that have occurred. The prosecutor does not represent you as your personal lawyer. You do have the right to seek personal legal services for an lawyer. Civil proceedings are when one party is bringing forward ligation against another party. Common civil proceedings that your family might be involved in are divorce, custody, or protective orders. In these proceedings, you have the right to hire your own attorney or represent yourself.
Advocates are trained to help explain how court works. They can help you navigate this experience. For criminal proceedings, the advocate can act as a liaison for you with the prosecutor. They can also schedule meetings for your family with the prosecutor. An advocate will be there if you have to participate in any court hearings. In Indiana, crime victims have protected rights. The advocate also wants to make sure you are aware of your rights throughout the process. Advocates can provide information and emotional support through any court proceedings, but are not allowed to speak on behalf of you or your child.
Importantly, you get to control what type of information is shared with the prosecutor by the advocate. The advocate will ask you to sign a release of information to make sure you are in control of what information is being shared about you and your needs. Without a signed release of information, the advocate is not able to inform the prosecutor that they are working with your family.
In civil proceedings, the advocate can be there with you to provide emotional support. They can also help you file a protective order. Since they are not attorneys, they cannot provide legal advice. If you need an attorney, any advocate can help provide you information about the types of legal services available in our community.