According to experts at the Department of Justice, roughly 1 in 6,000 children will be arrested before adulthood. Once inside the criminal justice system, many kids find it difficult to ever fully get out again. A single misdemeanor conviction can force children into a dangerous web of probation and heightened scrutiny. Unfortunately, one of the most accurate predictors of future incarceration is past incarceration. For this reason it is absolutely vital that you fight to free your child. Early intervention can help your child avoid a lifetime of institutionalized trauma and missed opportunity. Was your teen arrested? This article may help!
But How Do I Teach My Child While Protecting Them from the System?
The criminal justice system is supposed to be blind, fair, and efficient. In reality, it is none of these things. It, like any other man-made organization, is subject to human error and prejudice. Protecting your kids from the harmful effects of the “school-to-prison pipeline” should be your most immediate concern.
That being said, a lot of so-called criminal activity is common among young people. A fight on the playground could lead to assault and battery charges, a night out drinking after prom could lead to a DUI, and a brief experiment with marijuana could lead to drug charges. Parents in this situation must discipline their children accordingly, while simultaneously fighting these charges in court. Discouraging repeat offenses is the most important disciplinary action. The best legal defense is not to need one, after all.
Often, childhood criminal activity is a response to some other trauma. A child who is getting into fights or experimenting with drugs may be quietly suffering from a serious mental health issue. It is important that parents remain open and supportive during a criminal proceeding, otherwise children may feel rejected and such feelings could lead to further dangerous behavior.
What Are My Rights?
Your child should never be questioned alone. They have a right to have not only an attorney present, but in most jurisdictions they also have a right to have you present as well—and just like your child, you have the right to refuse any questioning and to demand the presence of a lawyer.
Do Not Rely on a Public Defender
Public defenders are talented, tireless, advocates for the poor and dispossessed. But, unfortunately, there are a great many people who are poor and dispossessed. Public defenders generally have large case loads—especially in poor areas where juvenile arrests are frequent—and little time to develop a winning strategy for your loved one. Relying on a public defender should be your very last option. Instead, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense, juvenile, or drug lawyer like Walsh Fewkes Sterba on what strategy would be best for your situation. Hiring a private attorney with the time and resources to defend your child is an absolute must, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to resolve this situation because your court appointed lawyer was too overwhelmed to take advantage of it.
The first and best thing you can do in this situation is search in your locality for a lawyer with significant criminal defense experience.