Legal Services


The Juvenile Division’s legal services department assists juvenile officers screen new referrals alleging child abuse or neglect, status offenses, delinquency cases and the termination of parental rights. The department also files legal pleadings when appropriate and represents legal interests of juvenile officers in court.

The department consists of staff attorneys, deputy juvenile officers, investigators, victims advocates and support staff. They make up six units that perform various functions for the Juvenile Division:

The Intake Unit – Deputy juvenile officers screen new referrals alleging child abuse or neglect, status offense, and delinquency. Such cases are usually referred by law enforcement, the Missouri Children’s Division, or parents. Intake DJOs, in consultation with staff attorneys, make decisions of whether there is sufficient evidence to authorize a child’s placement in protective custody or detention.

The Warrant Unit includes staff attorneys who review new referrals alleging child abuse or neglect, status offense or delinquency, make determinations of whether there is sufficient evidence to file formal pleadings with the court and draft and file such pleadings where appropriate.

The Trial Unit has staff attorneys represent the juvenile officer in court and have the burden of proving allegations contained in the pleadings. Staff Attorneys will also represent the juvenile officer in appeals.

The Investigation Unit has investigators who assist staff attorneys in preparing for court by interviewing victims and witnesses, serving subpoenas and obtaining records needed for trial.

The Victim Services Unit notifies victims of delinquency offenses of their rights, refers victims to needed services, escorts victims to hearings, assists with requests for restitution and helps victims understand the juvenile court process.

For the Adoption Unit, a deputy juvenile officer reviews all adoption petitions filed by private attorneys to ensure all the legal requirements are met prior to docketing cases for hearings. The DJO also responds to requests from adult adoptees for information concerning their birth families.