U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Guardians Ad Litem for Child Victims in Criminal Proceedings

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1987
42 pages
Following consideration of the legality of providing guardians ad litem (GAL) for child victims in criminal cases, this article discusses the pros and cons of this practice, outlines important variations among such programs, and offers suggestions for the GAL's role and duties.
It is neither reasonable to conclude that every jurisdiction should establish a GAL program for child victims in criminal cases nor to conclude that GAL's for child victims have no place in the criminal justice system. There is too much variety in current protections for child victims and in GAL programs to reach either conclusion. The decision about providing GAL's for child victims should consider the deficiencies and strengths of the particular jurisdiction in protecting children and the quality and type of GAL that can be provided. Because experience is limited with GAL's in criminal cases, their role must be defined with caution and precision. A particularly promising approach involves extending the role of GAL attorney teams which already serve in child protection proceedings. Non-attorney GAL's serving in child protection proceedings can be trained to serve as liaison, counselor, or victim advocate in related criminal proceedings. 153 footnotes.

Date Published: January 1, 1987