One of the most upsetting calls a parent can get is one notifying them that their child has been placed under arrest. If you receive such a call, how you react in the upcoming days can make a dramatic impact not only on the immediate outcome of your child’s case, but on their entire future as well. This is why it is so important to act as soon as possible in order to protect their rights and freedoms. Here’s what you should do if your child is arrested:
You might be angry at your teen, at the person who accused your child of a crime or at the police officer who arrested your son or daughter. That feeling is entirely understandable, but it won’t help your child. Even if you feel like a bad deed deserves punishment, remember that you can always punish your child at home the way you see fit and in a way that will not impact your child’s future. Also remember that some people are wrongly accused, so it never hurts to hear her side of the story first.
Call a Lawyer
You probably know that you should immediately contact a lawyer if you have been arrested, but many parents don’t realize that the same advice applies to their children. If your son or daughter is arrested, you should immediately seek a juvenile lawyer with a proven defense record. You may need to ask friends or family members for referrals or look up reviews online to find someone with the right experience and track record to help you.
Aside from helping your son or daughter, your lawyer will also be able to advise you on what to do on what to do if you are still in shock after your child has been arrested. And remember that even guilty people can benefit from having a defense attorney protect their rights under the law and fight for a minimized sentence and this is still the case when it comes to juveniles.
Remind Your Child of His Rights
While juvenile courts operate differently than their adult counterparts, a juvenile’s rights are largely the same -including their right to remain silent. When your child is arrested by the police, he should insist on remaining silent and speaking to a lawyer. Ideally you already had this conversation with your teen before he was arrested, but if not, it won’t hurt to remind him of those rights when you speak to him on the phone or in person.
It’s important to know that any conversations with your teen in an interrogation room could be recorded and used as evidence. Never discuss the case with him inside of an interrogation room unless your attorney is present.
Work to Get Your Child Released
Ask your attorney about the best way to get your child released from custody and what to do next. Juvenile criminal charges do not allow bail for incarcerated minors. If your child was arrested and being held at Juvenile Hall, it is important to have a lawyer prepared to argue for release from detention at the first court hearing.
You should know that just being detained can have a devastating impact on a young person’s mental state and your son or daughter is probably already scared to enough after being arrested.
Comfort Your Child
When, and if, your child has been released into custody you should discuss what happened and talk about how your teen feels about what happened. Helping your teen emotionally after an arrest may be difficult. You might be angry and want to express your disappointment, but also let your her speak to explain her side of events. You might end up learning a key piece of information that could help you fight the charges -for example, if school officials did a random search of your child’s locker without any type of reasonable suspicion, this evidence may be withheld from the trial.
Remember to let her know that you might be upset, but you know she is going through a lot and you want to help her.
Obtain Documents to Help Your Teen’s Case
Once you have dealt with the immediate issues involved with getting your child released and obtaining legal representation, there are a number of other things you can do to help your child’s case. Tracking down report cards, reference letters and documentation related to positive achievements by your child can help strengthen your child’s case by showing that he or she is a good student and responsible citizen. Always present these to your lawyer for evaluation before giving them to the judge. Also, make sure to let your attorney know if he has a learning disability or mental illness that may affect his behavior.
Seek Out Support
Be proactive with your child’s problems. Get your child into counseling or rehabilitation for drug issues, if applicable. Work with your attorney to repair any property your child may have damaged if he was accused of a crime such as vandalism. This will help both personally and legally because the court will see you are already are doing what the court would require.
Encourage Your Child to Keep Her Nose Clean
You and your child might be going through a lot, but try to get her back to school as soon as possible and encourage her to keep her grades up. These small factors can help sway judges more than you can imagine and if your child is truant for long periods after the arrest, it could hurt her in court as well.
Remember, juvenile courts are different than those used for adults who are charged with crimes. It is critical to work with an attorney with experience in this specialized legal system. Peter M. Liss has over 35 years of experience defending juvenile and adult offenders and he can help your child as well. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation and ask any questions you might have regarding what to do if your child was arrested and is now facing charges.