No parent wants to get the call that your child has been arrested or charged with a crime. Sometimes, however, kids make mistakes.
As a parent, you have the responsibility to set your child on the right path. Your child will look to you for what is next. There are lots of resources out there to help you, but sometimes trying to go through it all can be just as nerve-wracking as that initial call.
What many parents need is a list of easy-to-follow steps that they can use to guide them through the juvenile crime process and hopefully keep their child’s record clean and their future looking bright:
Tell Your Child What They Can Expect – There is little doubt that your child is scared – even if he or she is acting tough or aloof. The best way that you can ease their fears is with clarity and honesty. They need to know what is going to happen between their arrest and (possibly) serving time in jail.
Here’s the first, most clear-cut thing to understand and convey: they will not go to jail unless they are being tried in an adult court. Why would a minor be tried in adult court? They will only be sent to adult court if they ask to be tried there, or if the child’s age or the severity of the crime warrants a trial in adult court.
Before a trial begins, your child may be able to make an agreement with a judge called a “treatment plan.” A treatment plan requires your child to be under supervision from the Florida Department of Children and Families and satisfy certain conditions of their “punishment.” After the treatment plan is completed, the child’s charge is wiped clean from their criminal record.
Talk to a Lawyer – Options for treatment plans and your child’s next steps should be discussed with a knowledgeable Florida juvenile crimes lawyer. Even as a minor, your child has the right to an attorney. Based on your specific situation, an attorney will be able to help you decide what will benefit your child in and out of court. Lawyers can also help you expunge or seal your child’s criminal record.
Go over Your Child’s Rights – Police can be especially intimidating to teenagers, but your child has the same rights as anyone else when it comes to interacting with cops. Talk to your child about their rights and give them guidance for how they should behave during questioning. If you plan to hire a lawyer, talk to your child about how your lawyer will be able to help them through the criminal process.
Prepare Your Child for Trial – A judge will look at a series of factors before issuing a verdict or sentencing your child. If it appears that your child simply made a mistake or otherwise follows rules and the law, the judge will likely go easy on your child.
Communicate the value of a clean appearance and good behavior in the courtroom to your child. Collect any letters from your child’s teachers, coaches, or neighbors that show a judge that your child is a good kid. Stress the importance of being on their behavior up until the trial so no further evidence can be collected against your child.
With proper legal counsel and a period of good behavior under the watchful eye of the state of Florida, your child will be able to pay for their crimes without any adult consequences.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.