As a parent, you’ll do almost anything to protect your child and keep them out of harm’s way. That commitment to your child’s well-being and safety gets tested more and more as they grow from babies to toddlers to grade-schoolers to teenagers. And if you get a call from your teen or from the police telling you that they have been arrested and charged with a juvenile crime in Colorado Springs, that commitment will be tested more than ever before.
Being arrested can be a frightening ordeal for anyone, regardless of age. But when it’s your child who’s caught up in the justice system, their fear becomes your fear, and their future is in your hands. They will be looking for you to tell them that everything will be okay. They will be relying on you for guidance as to what to do. Do you know what to tell them? Do you know what steps you need to take as a parent to keep this already difficult situation from getting worse?
What actions should I take if my child is charged with a crime?
Call a juvenile crimes defense attorney. Now.
Of all the decisions your child will be relying on you to make, perhaps none is more important than hiring a juvenile crimes defense attorney to represent them. While there are important differences between Colorado’s juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system, the need for experienced, strategic, and aggressive defense counsel is not one of them. From the minute your child starts interacting with law enforcement, his or her rights are at risk. Their fear and uncertainty can lead them to say or do things that can hurt their chances of emerging from the ordeal unscathed. Make sure you find a defense lawyer who handles juvenile crimes cases on a regular basis. The rules and strategies involved in defending juvenile cases and minimizing the consequences require specific knowledge of how prosecutors handle such cases and how best to move the case towards the best possible outcome for your child.
Tell them not to speak with police without a lawyer present.
No matter how young your child is, they have the constitutional right to remain silent. But having that right means very little if your child is unaware of it. Even if they know that they don’t have to speak to the police, teens can be easily intimidated into talking. After all, they are facing not only criminal charges but your anticipated anger and disappointment. They will understandably want to tell the police their side of the story or try to talk their way out of things. The police will encourage your child to talk, not out of a desire to help them, but because they want your child to make admissions that can ultimately be used to convict them. Tell your child to respectfully and politely advise the police that they will not speak any further or answer any questions until the lawyer you have obtained for them is present.
Don’t discuss the case with them as a parent.
Of course, you want your child to tell you what happened. Of course, you want to know what they have to say. But when you discuss the facts and circumstances of the incident that led to the charges against your child, those discussions could be admissible as evidence. You can be called as a witness to testify as to what your child said. There is no parent-child privilege. Your child’s discussions with his or her defense lawyer, however, are protected by the attorney-client privilege. If your child has things to say about the case, he or she should say them to their lawyer.
Seek treatment and attempt to address any underlying issues.
Some kids face juvenile charges due to a momentary lapse in judgment. For others, however, an arrest can be a symptom of larger issues, from substance abuse to mental illness to bullying. Use this unfortunate ordeal as an opportunity to discover and take action on any such underlying issues.
Support them and love them.
Yes, you have practical steps you need to take to protect your child after they’ve been arrested; getting them a juvenile crimes defense attorney and getting your child home being first amongst them. But, as noted, they will also need you to simply be a parent. Give them the love and support that will allow them to learn from their mistakes and help them understand that everything will ultimately be okay.