This article uses data from six states to analyze the availability of and the effects of counsel on delinquency and status offenses cases in juvenile courts. In three of the states, nearly half or more of delinquent and status offenders did not have lawyers, including many youths who received out-of-home placement and secure confinement dispositions. In all the jurisdictions, each legal variable—seriousness of present offense, detention status, and prior referrals—that was associated with more severe dispositions was also associated with higher rates of representation. However, while legal variables enhance the probabilities of representation, the presence of an attorney appeared to exert an additional, independent effect on the severity of dispositions. The article then explores the policy implications of these findings.
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