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Steps to Take if Your Child is Charged with a Crime

Teen Charged with a Crime

As parents, we never imagine our children will be charged with a crime. It’s no surprise that parents are shocked when this happens. However, it is important to act quickly to protect your child’s legal rights and your child’s future.

If possible, try not to panic if your child gets into trouble with the law. Instead, focus on taking steps to help your child deal with the charges emotionally and legally.

Ways You Can Help Your Child With a Criminal Charge

One of the first steps you can take to protect your child’s legal rights is to speak with a juvenile crime lawyer. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are not on your child’s side. They are not acting in your child’s best interest.

You need an attorney to act as a legal advocate for your child. It is best to retain an attorney who has experience with criminal defense cases. Even if you have legal experience or you are an attorney, you are too emotionally invested in the case to think clearly.

Do Not Allow Your Child to Talk to the Police

Do not allow your child to make a statement or answer questions without an attorney present. The best thing you can do for your child is to advise your child to exercise his or her right to remain silent and request legal counsel.

Remember, there is no federal law that states a child has the right to have a parent present during questions. However, your child does have the right to have an attorney present. Make sure your child has adequate legal counsel before answering questions.

It can be tempting to try to explain what happened. However, the more you or your child talks to the police, the more evidence you give to the police. Wait until you consult with a lawyer before speaking to the police.

Be Respectful and Polite

Your child can exercise his or her legal rights while remaining respectful and police. Politely inform the officers that you are waiting until you can consult with legal counsel before answering questions. If your child is not under arrest, you should be able to leave the police station.

Learn What to Expect

Ask questions about the process that your child faces. Being charged with a crime is stressful and frightening. You and your child may feel better if you know what to expect as your child is processed through the criminal justice system.

Your child’s attorney should be able to provide a detailed explanation of what you can expect based on the charges and the details of your case. Continue asking questions until you understand the process, your child’s legal rights, and what you should do to help with your child’s defense.

Ask About Intervention Programs and Alternatives to Sentencing

Numerous courts throughout the country have intervention programs and alternatives to sentencing for juveniles. Talk to your child’s attorney about options for avoiding a criminal conviction. You do not want your child to have a criminal record, if you can avoid it.

Intervention programs vary. Your child may be required to attend counseling or an addiction treatment program. In many cases, the program requires that participants perform community service and maintain school attendance.

Make sure that you and your child understand all requirements for intervention and alternative sentencing programs. Your child needs to understand the consequences if he or she does not complete the intervention program.

Protect Yourself by Consulting with an Attorney

Your child’s attorney cannot provide you with legal advice regarding your legal liability for a child’s criminal actions. There are some cases in which a parent could face criminal liability for a child’s actions.

State laws vary regarding when a parent may be liable for a child’s action. However, some cases that could result in legal charges against a parent include bullying, gun crimes, truancy, underage drinking, and underage DUI.

You may need to retain an attorney to represent you, in addition to retaining a criminal defense lawyer for your child. Your lawyer’s job is to protect your legal rights and interests. Your child’s lawyer will protect your child.

Consider Seeking Therapy or Counseling for Your Child

There could be an underlying reason why your child committed a crime. In some cases, counseling or therapy could help identify the issues that contributed to your child getting into trouble with the law.

A counselor or therapist may also provide important evidence that could be helpful in your child’s criminal case. Let your child’s attorney know that you are seeking mental health treatment for your child. Taking steps to protect your child’s mental health and wellbeing is as important as taking steps to protect your child if he or she is arrested.


Craig Orent's picture

Craig Orent is a criminal defense lawyer serving Phoenix, AZ. Craig is the founding attorney at Orent Law Offices, PLC, and has been defending people facing criminal charges for almost 30 years.