One of the biggest fears you may have as a parent is that you will receive a phone call informing you that police are arresting your child on misdemeanor or felony charges. If this happens, you can tell the police that they do not have your consent to interview your child and you can obtain legal representation.
Your child has rights. However, they may not understand them or exercise them. An attorney from our firm can protect these rights and defend your child against the charges they’re facing. We can walk you and your child through every step of the juvenile justice system.
Steps to Take If Your Child Is Arrested
It’s not a phone call that any parent wants to receive. All of a sudden you fear for your child’s safety. You worry about how the police are treating your child. Your mind races. You can’t get the image of police restraining your frightened child out of your head. All you want is for someone to tell you what to do because you can’t think straight.
This is normal and understandable. Parents instinctively want the best for their children and want to protect them. In this situation, you can take several practical steps to protect your child:
- Assess the situation: You’re upset, and you want answers. But we urge you to remain as calm as possible so you can effectively help your child in their time of need. They are scared and they need you.
- Call the police station: Find out where the police are taking your child and call the station to inform them that they do not have your consent to interview them. Police may try to take advantage of your child not understanding their rights.
- Contact a lawyer: Either you or your child can request that a lawyer be present before the police can ask any questions. Many law offices have someone available to take your call 24 hours a day.
It may seem like a lot to ask, but you are your child’s best advocate. Taking immediate action to protect their rights is the most important thing you can do for them. After that, you can let your child’s attorney do the heavy lifting. Our law firm has experience defending juveniles.
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
What to Expect After the Police Arrest Your Child
You already know that the police will try to question your child. What you may not know is that juveniles between the ages of 10-18 receive a different kind of treatment under the law than adult offenders. Even the language used is very different.
The first difference is that offenses are not crimes, but delinquent acts. Most hearings are private and there is no jury. And rather than being “found guilty,” a juvenile is “adjudicated (or “deemed”) delinquent.”
Of course, there are a few stages of the juvenile justice system that your child may have to navigate, including:
- Probation intake: At this stage, the judge/ hearing officer presiding over your child’s case will decide whether the prosecution has enough evidence to proceed to an adjudication hearing. We can work to challenge the evidence and convince the court that there is no case against your child.
- Detention hearing: The judge will decide whether your child should be held in a detention center or whether you can take your child home. Certain factors to be taken into consideration will be whether the child has a home to go to, the nature of the offense, what risk the child poses to others, and whether this is their first offense. An adjudication hearing must occur no more than ten days later if your child is sent to detention.
- Adjudication hearing: This hearing is just like a trial for adults but without a jury. Your child will have the opportunity to admit or deny the charges and the prosecution will bear the burden of proving their case. The judge will decide whether your child is responsible for the offense and then whether they are considered an adjudicated delinquent or not.
- Disposition hearing: If the judge rules that your child is delinquent after an adjudication hearing, the disposition hearing will determine the consequences, which is like the sentence in adult court. The focus is on treatment, rehabilitation, and supervision. Your child’s needs are the top priority, so the judge could order evaluations of their mental health and physical health to determine what type of treatment they require.
- Probation or placement: The probationary period sometimes lasts between six and twelve months. During this time, your child must adhere to terms such as regularly attending school, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and obeying curfew. If the court believes that your child cannot be supervised at home, they may place your child in a juvenile facility.
A defense attorney from our firm can guide you through this process and help you and your child prepare for every step. It’s entirely possible that the judge could dismiss your child’s case, and we can fight for that outcome.
Can The Court Expunge My Child’s Record?
Even if it’s not your child’s first offense, you may be able e to expunge your child’s record if they can successfully complete the period of supervision and can stay out of trouble for a period of time.
Your child’s record would then be a clean slate. Sometimes prosecutors can agree to a future expungement at the time of the adjudicatory hearing. We can work with the prosecutor to reach an agreement that both sides can accept if that’s what you and your child want.
Learn More About What to Do If Your Child Is Arrested Today
It’s a terrifying experience for any parent, but if your child is arrested, they’ll need your support more than ever. This means making sure their rights are protected. Obtaining legal representation can provide your child with an advocate to protect their rights and help them understand the juvenile justice system and what they can expect.
To learn more about what to do if your child is arrested, or to schedule a consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. A defense lawyer from the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC can be a powerful ally for both you and your child.