Perhaps you suspect your teenage son or daughter is breaking the law, or maybe her or she has confided in you about engaging in criminal behavior. There might be other situations where your child is skirting the law, or appears to be. What do you do now? When is the right time to get a lawyer involved? Here are four times when finding and hiring a lawyer is definitely the right thing to do.
1. Your child is almost an adult.
In some states, children under the age of 18 can be tried as adults, with the corresponding punishment. If your child is 16 or 17, or has committed a serious crime, it's time to talk to a criminal attorney about next steps.
2. Your child is being asked to speak to police officers.
Because anything your child says to a law enforcement officer can be used against him or her in court, it's best to have an attorney present any time a child is being questioned. If necessary, the attorney can enforce the child's right to remain silent and prevent officers from pushing for a response.
In many cases, a child's inexperience and ability to be manipulated may make the charges worse than if nothing was said. As well, most interrogation rooms have video or voice recording that the child may not be aware of. Kids who are alone -- or even with parents -- may find it difficult to stay quiet. The attorney can make sure that his or her client is not tempted to provide incriminating evidence.
3. Your child is innocent of the charges but may have been a witness or involved in some way.
You may think that because your son or daughter didn't actually commit the crime that he or she can speak openly with law enforcement officers. The problem is that an experienced questioner can draw information out of a child and perhaps find other reasons to charge him or her. You don't want your kid to be charged with other crimes or misdemeanors if the officers can't prove a case for the original charge.
If your child was a witness to a crime, he or she may also be coerced into providing information about other people who were involved. It's fine if that's what your child chooses to do, but if you have decided not to name other perpetrators, then you don't want to be pushed into doing so.
4. Punishment can be varied for the crime your child is accused of.
Some offenses, such as when a child is in possession of alcohol, are serious but are unlikely to result in incarceration. Other crimes, like theft or assault, are more likely to have variable punishments that can depend on your child's past record as well as a number of other factors.
A good criminal defense attorney will be aware of the possible options for punishment and can help to convince the judge to be lenient. What could result in incarceration in a juvenile facility might be lowered to participating in a diversionary program, doing community service, etc.
If you are concerned that perhaps your child might be partially or fully guilty, it's still a good idea to talk to a criminal defense attorney, such as those at Rutter and Sleeth Law Offices. Your lawyer can make sure that justice is served but that your child doesn't get a harsher punishment than he or she deserves.Share
2 July 2015
Like many people, I once found learning about law very intimidating. My brother went to law school and I remember glancing through a few of his books and wondering if I was actually reading English due to all of the legal jargon in them! However, when I ended up in a sticky legal situation due to accidentally breaking a small law I didn't know existed, I realized that I needed to learn more about the law, so I could make sure to follow it precisely in the future. My brother helped to break down some complicated legal concepts to me, and I have since been studying up online. I want to post what I have learned and continue to learn about law in the future on my new blog, so my knowledge cannot only help myself, but also help others!