43-279.01. Juvenile in need of assistance or termination of parental rights; rights of parties; appointment of counsel; court; powers; proceedings.

(1) When the petition alleges the juvenile to be within the provisions of subdivision (3)(a) of section 43-247 or when termination of parental rights is sought pursuant to subdivision (6) of section 43-247 and the parent, custodian, or guardian appears with or without counsel, the court shall inform the parties of the:

(a) Nature of the proceedings and the possible consequences or dispositions pursuant to sections 43-284, 43-285, and 43-288 to 43-295;

(b) Right of the parent to engage counsel of his or her choice at his or her own expense or to have counsel appointed if the parent is unable to afford to hire a lawyer;

(c) Right of a stepparent, custodian, or guardian to engage counsel of his or her choice and, if there are allegations against the stepparent, custodian, or guardian or when the petition is amended to include such allegations, to have counsel appointed if the stepparent, custodian, or guardian is unable to afford to hire a lawyer;

(d) Right to remain silent as to any matter of inquiry if the testimony sought to be elicited might tend to prove the party guilty of any crime;

(e) Right to confront and cross-examine witnesses;

(f) Right to testify and to compel other witnesses to attend and testify;

(g) Right to a speedy adjudication hearing; and

(h) Right to appeal and have a transcript or record of the proceedings for such purpose.

(2) The court shall have the discretion as to whether or not to appoint counsel for a person who is not a party to the proceeding. If counsel is appointed, failure of the party to maintain contact with his or her court-appointed counsel or to keep such counsel advised of the party's current address may result in the counsel being discharged by the court.

(3) After giving the parties the information prescribed in subsection (1) of this section, the court may accept an in-court admission, an answer of no contest, or a denial from any parent, custodian, or guardian as to all or any part of the allegations in the petition. The court shall ascertain a factual basis for an admission or an answer of no contest.

(4) In the case of a denial, the court shall allow a reasonable time for preparation if needed and then proceed to determine the question of whether the juvenile falls under the provisions of section 43-247 as alleged. After hearing the evidence, the court shall make a finding and adjudication to be entered on the records of the court as to whether the allegations in the petition have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence in cases under subdivision (3)(a) of section 43-247 or by clear and convincing evidence in proceedings to terminate parental rights. The court shall inquire as to whether any party believes an Indian child is involved in the proceedings prior to the advisement of rights pursuant to subsection (1) of this section. If an Indian child is involved, the standard of proof shall be in compliance with the Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Act, if applicable.

(5) If the court shall find that the allegations of the petition or motion have not been proven by the requisite standard of proof, it shall dismiss the case or motion. If the court sustains the petition or motion, it shall allow a reasonable time for preparation if needed and then proceed to inquire into the matter of the proper disposition to be made of the juvenile.

Source:Laws 1985, LB 447, § 23; Laws 1989, LB 22, § 3; Laws 2013, LB561, § 18; Laws 2015, LB566, § 1.

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