The following is a step by step guide to help parents when their child is arrested. This is part 1 of a multi part series.
The phone call from the police alone can make any parent scared beyond words: your child has been arrested.
1) Calll an attorney skilled in Juvenile defense.
An attorney who deals with juvenile clients is a must because so many criminal defense attorneys simply do not have the knowledge to represent children.
Adult law and juvenile law are completely different areas of criminal defense. Done right, your child, with proper representation, can get a clean record. Done without experience, a child can suffer the consequences of their juvenile record well into adulthood.
2) Advise your child to NOT talk to police without an attorney present.
Everything said can be used against them in Court. And parents have no constitutional right to be present when their child is questioned by police.
3) There is no bail system with children charged within the juvenile system. If your child remains in the custody of the juvenile hall, an attorney can fight for their release at the first court date which is scheduled within a 48 hour period of the child’s detainment.
4). A probation officer will be assigned to the case as soon as the child is detained. Once in Court, the probation officer, if the child is detained, writes an initial report recommending release, house arrest or further detainment.
Then after the child comes back after their first appearance, a second report is made, suggesting to the Court what the officer recommends should be done to the child.
If your child is not detained, the probation officer will write a report after the initial court appearance.
5). The probation officer will talk to the parents of the child, and the child as well. It is important the attorney places on the record that the child should not talk about the facts of the case with the probation officer –because again, that information could be used against the child in court.
6). Make sure your child attends school every day and maintains good grades while the case is pending and beyond. The Court and the probation officer look at school attendance and grades in finding the right way to handle your child’s case. Good grades, and good attendance help more than words can explain.
7). If your child has an IEP, or special education needs, let your lawyer and the probation officer know. This can effect your child’s case. Sometimes children with special needs have reasons why they commit certain offenses–and that information can help with a positive resolution to the case.
8). If possible, assembling character letters from family members or school faculty explaining how your child deserves a chance really helps. Judges do read these letters, and if people can vouch for your child’s good character, this can be a powerful tool in helping your child.
Stay tuned for PART 2 in the series What Parents Should Know If their Child is Arrested.
By: Silva L. Megerditchian, Owner and Lead Attorney for the Law Office of Silva L. Megerditchian.
10942 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1600
Los Angeles, CA. 90024