As a parent, you’re always worrying for your child, and that concern will grow deeper as your child reaches their teen years. As teens struggle to achieve independence, they make mistakes that we learn to avoid as adults. Some of these mistakes may involve breaking laws and committing criminal acts. If your teen is arrested as a result of acting rashly, it’s important to know what you can do to help them.
Talk to the Police
Your first step after learning that your teen child has been arrested should be to talk to the police. Before doing so, take the time to think about how you’ll interact with the police. You will want to be respectful. Try to remember that your goal is to learn as much from the police as possible. You should also avoid answering any questions that may incriminate your teenager. Depending on the laws in your state, you may or may not be permitted to be present during the questioning of your child. When you visit your teen, be sure to advise them that you’ll be hiring a lawyer for them, and remind them to remain silent until they hear from the attorney.
Hire an Attorney
Hiring an attorney becomes a little more complex when it comes to your teenager. As an adult, you would want to hire a lawyer skilled in handling the specific type of crime with which you have been charged. For example, if you were charged with selling illegal drugs, you would hire a drug charges attorney. While that’s still an important consideration in hiring a lawyer for your teen, you will also want to hire a lawyer skilled in handling juvenile cases. There will be differences in how laws are applied to minors, and your teen may go to family court instead of criminal court. These factors require the expertise of an attorney who has handled juvenile cases in the past. Keep this in mind in scheduling initial consultations. The first meeting you have with an attorney should be used to help you determine if they have the specialized skills to help your teenager.
In many states, it’s not required to grant bail to minors. It’s not uncommon for a teen to be held in juvenile detention, but your lawyer may be able to get a judge to grant bail for your teen. In that case, you should be prepared to post bail as quickly as possible. Bail for a teen can be just as high as bail for an adult, so you may have to use the services of a bail bondsman in your area. This allows you to pay a percentage of the bail as the bondsman’s fee and, in exchange, they will post the bail for your child. In some situations, it may be necessary to post assets as collateral, such as real estate or other valuable assets.
Talk to Your Child
Until your teenager has been released on bail, you should limit the conversations you have with them. While your teen’s conversations with an attorney are protected, anything you discuss with your child is fair game. This means the police can listen in on your conversation, record the discussion, and use incriminating statements in court. When you do get your child home, it will be time to have a more in-depth talk to learn the full details of the incident. Find out what led your teenager to become involved in criminal activity and discuss how similar incidents can be avoided in the future. While you want to be supportive of your child and to calm their fears, you shouldn’t let them think they won’t suffer consequences for their behavior.
Assist With Your Child’s Defense
You can help your teen’s attorney gather evidence to help defend your child. If you know where your teen was at the time of the incident or can offer other testimony that can help prove their innocence, discuss this with the attorney. You should also talk to your child about what they can expect when they return home for good. This may involve revoking their driving privileges, requiring them to go through a rehab program, or getting them involved in community service. Filling your teen’s time with more constructive activities will leave less time for them to become involved in illegal activity in the future.
Above all, be sure to keep your cool and respond to your teen’s arrest as calmly and rationally as possible. You won’t help your child by panicking or getting angry. Following a good strategy, including the tips given here, will help you do what’s best for your teen child.