Helping Your Child After an Arrest — A Parent's Guide

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Dec 21

Lewis & Laws

Helping Your Child After an Arrest — A Parent's Guide

by Lewis & Laws

Helping Your Child After an Arrest — A Parent’s Guide

There are few events which summon as much anxiety for a parent as a phone call from the police station with the news their child has been arrested. In 2009, nearly two million children between the ages of 10 and 18 were arrested.

One of the most difficult things as a parent is knowing when to step in and help your child, and knowing when to back away and let them deal with the consequences of their actions. However, if your teenager is arrested for an impulsive mistake—especially if this is their first time in trouble—you need to do everything in your power to help your child avoid serious, long-term consequences.

Long before your child is a teenager who is more likely to get into trouble with the law, you need to instill in him or her that if they ever find themselves on the wrong side of the law, cooperation and respect toward the police officer will go a long way toward a more positive outcome. There are certain things you must know to help your children in the best way possible, including the following:

  • Remember that even the best kids can occasionally make a mistake. Teens are notoriously impulsive, and sometimes follow the crowd even though they know better. That being said, try not to be one of those parents who adamantly insists “not my” Your child is not an angel, and you can better help him or her if you accept that right up front.
  • While you—and your child—should always be polite and respectful toward the police officers, do not make the mistake of thinking they are on your side. A police officer’s job is to respond to complaints, and to do their level best to punish those they believe are breaking the law. Of course, police officers do not generally deliberately try to arrest innocent people, but it does happen.
  • Understand that your rights as a parent may be limited. Under federal law, you do not have the right to be present when your child is questioned, although some states do require parental consultation prior to questioning a minor. Many departments will notify the parents, but it is not mandatory in general, for children over the age of 12.
  • Although your child—like an adult—does have the right to request an attorney, it is the rare child or teen who is confident enough to tell a police officer they want an attorney and will not answer any more questions. Police officers are intimidating to most adults, so imagine how intimidating they are to a child or teen. It is a good thing to teach your children that the police can continue to question them after they ask for a parent, but not after they request an attorney.
  • Contact an experienced Seattle juvenile criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible if your child is being investigated for a crime. Most police officers will be more likely to tell an attorney the details of the crime the child is being investigated for than he or she is to tell the parents.

Your child will be charged in juvenile court—unless the crime is a violent one and the child is older. Generally speaking, the court has broad authority to determine how your child will be charged, and whether he or she will be placed in a juvenile facility, at home with you, or with foster parents.

In the end, the very best thing you can do for your child is not to argue with the police, rather to contact a knowledgeable Seattle attorney immediately. You might also consider finding a support group to help you deal with the many emotions you will experience after your child is arrested.

Has your child been arrested and charged with a crime? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

The expert juvenile defense team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC have helped numerous families in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland after their child has been arrested and charged with a crime. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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