The Children’s Defense Team serves as the court appointed public defender for children between the ages of 6 and 16 who are alleged to be delinquent in Mecklenburg County. The Team also represents children who have been committed to a psychiatric hospital or treatment facility due to mental health issues.
Meet our client, E.J.
E. J. is a 14 year old boy who has lived with his grandmother since he was 3 months old. He never knew his mother and his father has been in and out of his life. He struggled academically and dealt with depression due to missing his dad. E. J. soon began hanging with a group of older boys who encouraged him to begin shoplifting. He was later charged with larceny and breaking and entering. E. J. was held in the local detention center and was in danger of repeating the 7th grade for the second time. E. J. was discouraged and felt that he would never succeed.
The Children’s Defense Team helped E. J. turn things around. The Team presented the Court with records that showed that E.J. had a learning disability, a history of depression and other mental health issues that had never been treated. With the help of his attorney and defense team social worker, E. J. pled to a reduced charge and was connected with the appropriate mental health services, academic tutoring and a teen mentoring program. The Defense Team also connected E.J. to a teen cooking program. Due to E.J.’s compliance and willingness to succeed, the Judge reduced E.J.’s probationary sentence. E.J. is now thriving.
Because of the Council, today E.J. is on track academically, is no longer depressed and well on his way to becoming a star chef.