An adult with a serious mental illness or an intellectual disability, who has been accused of a crime, may be found incompetent to stand trial and may receive services to attain competency. But when it comes to juveniles and the delinquency court, Indiana has not had a clear process for determining a child’s competency to understand the proceedings against them and assist in their own defense, nor provisions for getting appropriate services for that child—until now.

Indiana judges and attorneys who hear and argue delinquency cases, as well as the Department of Child Services, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, and child psychiatrists and psychologists will want to make themselves familiar with the new competency provisions contained in Ind. Code chapter 31-37-26. Taking effect on December 31, 2022, Indiana will have a statutory set of requirements and timelines related to evaluating and determining a juvenile’s competency, providing services to attain competency, and importantly, a course of action if it is determined that competency cannot be attained by the juvenile.