The question of what to do if your child is arrested is one I answer almost every day. Depending on the crime, and the juvenile's prior criminal record, a juvenile can be held in secure juvenile detention for up to 21 days
. And that's BEFORE he or she is ever found guilty
. Here are the top 10 things to do:
- If you get a call from the police that your child is being taken in for questioning - go with him or her. You have a right to be present at an interview of your child. As does an attorney. Also, the questioning of juveniles often occurs at school or home. Make sure you're there.
- Get an attorney immediately. Juvenile's rights are almost always violated in one way or another. A good juvenile attorney can assist you with all the defenses.
- DO NOT tell your child to "tell the truth". This will absolutely be the worst thing he or she can do. There's a difference between being respectful and a full confession. Save the confession for church.
- Advise your child to remain silent. "Telling the truth" will be a sure way to turn an interrogation into an arrest. And probably lead to more charges. (That is not advice to LIE - Don't lie, remain silent - and don't forget the police can lie to you during an interrogation. That's a part of their "interrogation technique".)
- If you speak to anyone in the juvenile assessment center, indicate your willingness to bring your child home. Make sure they understand that you have control of your child, they will not be sneaking out, and will attend school regularly with no unexcused absences.
- If your child is kept in secure juvenile detention, make sure you are at the first appearance hearing the following morning - preferably with your juvenile defense attorney. It is at this time that a judge makes the determination of whether or not your child will be held in secure juvenile detention for 21 days, or the child will be allowed to go home.
- If your child is kept in secure juvenile detention, make sure you tell them not to talk to anyone about the case. Don't make friends with other juveniles, the guards, or talk to any police investigators that may come in a try to talk to him or her.
- Make sure you don't talk to your child about the facts of the case, either over the phone, or in the juvenile detention center. There is no "expectation of privacy" in a jail and almost everything is recorded.
- Get your child an attorney - and one who understand juvenile criminal defense.
- Realize that one mistake doesn't necessarily ruin your child's chances of getting a job or into college. This a lesson, and one that is hopefully never repeated. There are many ways to seal or expunge a juvenile criminal record. You just need a good attorney.