For many parents, discovering their teen has been arrested feels like a scene from their darkest nightmare.
After lovingly raising a child from infancy, it can destroy parents to learn their child is in trouble with the law.Click To Tweet
It’s hard to imagine that the child who cuddled with stuffed animals, loved to color, and cried on his first day of preschool could be facing juvenile incarceration, community service hours, and a permanent criminal record.
But even the best kids and teens can get into legal trouble, whether due to an error in judgement or because they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Juvenile minds are still developing, and are prone to making impulsive decisions and inexperienced judgement calls.
As a parent, you can’t control your teen or erase their mistakes. All you can do is try to raise them to be responsible, sensible, and law-abiding, and help them out if they do find themselves in trouble with the law. If your child or teen has been arrested, it’s up to you to guide them through this difficult time—your actions and behavior can determine the outcome of their case and their future.
Below, we’ve listed some guidelines for helping your teen or child protect their freedom and future after being arrested.
Talk to your teen.Your first act should be to make sure your child is all right. Listen to their side of the story as calmly as possible, and help them understand what actions to take and how to behave. Provide your teen with basic instructions on cooperating with the police, including:
- Stay calm. Don’t let panic, anger, or confusion dictate your actions.
- Be courteous when interacting with police officers, refraining from insults and name-calling.
- Though you should be respectful to police officers, never speak to them without an experienced criminal attorney present beyond providing your name, contact information, and driver’s information.
- If you are being held in custody and the police are attempting to question you, protect your rights by demanding a lawyer. If you ask for a lawyer, police will be legally required to cease questioning you until he or she is present.
- Remember that police officers may try manipulate you into incriminating yourself by pretending to be your friend, convincing you to write an “apology letter,” or promising to let you go if you cooperate. It’s critical that you remain respectful but firm, and do not provide further information without an attorney present.
Cooperate with the police. The same goes for you, the parents—arguing or yelling at police may hurt your child’s case. Be respectful of officers, but never agree to speak with them without an attorney present.
Hire an attorney as soon as possible. Hiring a lawyer immediately is essential to securing a positive outcome for your child’s case. Parents can often unknowingly hurt their teen’s case by convincing them to say something incriminating.
An attorney can speak with the police and the prosecutor, and keep you informed of the information learned through these discussions. Your attorney can help you understand the charges facing your child, and determine the best course of action to take. If your child is being held in custody, a lawyer has a right to visit your teen juvenile detention center, whereas you as a parent do not. Your attorney may also be able to secure your teen’s release from custody. Occasionally, your lawyer will be able to have your teen released into your custody without requiring you to post a bond.
Understand the stakes. Your teen’s future depends largely on your actions as a parent. He or she is facing much more than a brief stint in a juvenile detention center and a few hours of community service. A criminal charge leaves a stain on their record, restricting them from securing jobs, going to college, and applying for loans.
Don’t gamble with your teen’s educational and career opportunities, future, and freedoms. Consult with a top Colorado criminal attorney experienced in juvenile crimes who can help you develop the most aggressive and powerful defense possible. With the help of an attorney, you can help have the charges against your teen reduced or dropped, enabling your family to put the incident behind you and allowing your teen to move forward with life.
An attorney may also be able to help you have your teen’s arrest record expunged, effectually making it as if the arrest had never happened in the eyes of the law. In the best case scenario, your teen’s arrest may cease to be anything but a memory by the end of the whole ordeal.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.