Juvenile Crimes: How to Protect Your Children from Conviction
One of the worst fears a parent may have is getting a phone call in the middle of the night or early morning and discovering that their child is behind bars. If this is the first time your child’s been arrested, you must educate yourself immediately and take some measures to protect your child.
Although juvenile offenses may not seem like a huge deal to the young age of the offender, in reality, this case could have a negative impact on your child’s future academic and career opportunities. If formal charges are actually filed and a conviction follows, some of the potential consequences include probation, court supervision, or even juvenile detention.
In the event of an arrest, the following are several steps to take to protect your child from conviction:
- Ensure your child is safe – There are some communities with relatively safe jails and others that aren’t. If your child is unsafe, get him or her out as soon as possible.
- Instruct your child not to speak to police – Like an adult, your child has the constitutional right to remain silent. Anything he or she says can and will be used against them in court. Officers typically use various questioning tactics to attempt to extract information from those who are easily intimidated by them. It is important for your child to understand that he/she doesn’t have to talk to anyone except for you and/or his/her attorney. Tell your child that they should politely decline to answer any questions, especially if no parent or lawyer is present.
- Do not argue with law enforcement authorities – While you may encounter a police department with an inherent understanding of teen behavior and may be compassionate about family circumstances, they are often not on your side. Confronting or engaging law enforcement authorities can negatively affect your child’s case.
- Contact an attorney – As a parent, you should secure an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your child, especially one who has the thorough knowledge of the local juvenile court system. On the other hand, do not hire an attorney for the small stuff (e.g. curfew violation, truancy, etc.).
- Remain objective and calm – Do not lecture or yell at your child as added punishment since someone else typically reprimands your child (e.g. police officer, probation officer, judge). While you have every right to be worried, this could be an opportune learning experience for an out-of-control adolescent. Keep your head together for the sake of your child, protect your child’s rights, and be the mom or dad he or she needs you to be.