What Parents Need to Know When Their Child Is Accused of a Crime

As a parent, you have given your children as much love and opportunity as possible, but as their minds develop, they are still likely to make mistakes. The thought of your child getting in trouble with the law or being accused of a crime can be terrifying and overwhelming. It can seem like everything you’ve worked towards is falling apart, but it’s important to know that you and your family don’t have to go through this alone. Here are some immediate steps to take to protect your child’s rights and their future.

Don’t Assume The Worst Or The Best

Fear or surprise from criminal accusations can lead even the most rational parent to assume their child will face a horrible conviction, go to detention and have their life “ruined.”  Like most of the bad things in life, the worst usually does not happen. And that is the same for criminal charges in the juvenile justice system. In fact, the juvenile justice system is focused on rehabilitation much moreso than punishment, especially in King County Juvenile Court.

Similarly, we can’t assume the police, prosecutors and the judge will understand your child and go lightly on your child. They are not a parent who has the perspective on what your child’s intent was or their whole picture of who they really are.  

That is where an attorney comes in. It is the attorney’s job to make sure the facts, outcome and other important information about your child and family are known by the right people at the right time – not too soon, not too late, not too much information and to the people that matter to the outcome.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Every person has the right to an attorney, including kids.  But finding an attorney you can trust with your child’s future is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Not all criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge of juvenile court and not all attorneys have the same strategies or legal prowess. 

The process is confusing and scary. Attorneys should give you and your child an honest assessment of the case and process. It is not fair to you or your child for the attorney to tell you what you want to hear, although what you want to hear might actually fit with your attorney’s assessment of the case.

They are there to help you navigate the legal system and leverage their knowledge and experience with the powers that be.  But you should not be confused and unprepared. It is equally important to an attorney to be able to help you and your child through the process.

This means understanding the charges your child is facing or might face, as well as advocating for the best outcome throughout the process.

Your attorney should also be compassionate and understanding but tough enough to stand up for your child’s rights in and out of a courtroom. You and your child should feel comfortable enough to be completely honest with your attorney without fear of judgment. 

The most important thing to your attorney isn’t to judge families or their child for whatever mistakes may have been made, if any at all.  It is to understand the facts of the case to provide the best possible defense. Each case is unique, and the specifics of each child’s situation can impact the outcome.

Understand That You Are Not Alone

It’s easy to feel ashamed or embarrassed about your child’s actions, but it’s important to know that your child’s actions don’t define you as a parent. To overcome this challenge, they will need your support more than ever.  You can support your child by having an attorney who can deal with the legal options, court and prosecutor.  It can be frustrating and burdensome to work through the juvenile justice system, but it can be done with a united front.

Remember that you are not the only parent who has gone through this experience. According to the National Juvenile Court Data Archive, over 700,000 juvenile cases are processed by courts in the United States annually. There are support groups and therapy practices where you can talk about your experiences with people who’ve been through the same thing. The sense of community can provide some relief during this difficult time.  

And there are many sources of support for your child to make sure the outcome is proportionate to the situation and lives for your child and family will go on.  

During all of this turmoil, it’s important to continue to have empathy and show your child unconditional love. Criminal allegations are traumatic even for experienced adults, and children still have their whole lives ahead of them. As a society, it’s important that everyone works together to provide children the protection and resources they need to continue living happy and healthy lives. We have protected thousands of good kids with promising futures who are falsely accused or who have made a mistake, and we’re here to help yours. To discuss your child’s case, call our office at (206) 933-2414 today.

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