What To Avoid If Your Child Is Charged With A Juvenile Offense

Interviewer: Are there any other things families should avoid when they’re in this situation to make sure they don’t make the matters worse?

Amir Ladan: Well, the one thing that I tell parents on a regular basis is this.
Let’s say their child stole something from a department store. They did it. They were caught red- handed and the evidence is clear.

Don’t Parent Through the Court System

Parents don’t want to give their children the impression that stealing is permissible so they think the only option is for their child to go to court. The problem with that is that parenting absolutely needs to take place, but it shouldn’t be done through the court system. Consequences that come through the court generally far exceed what the parent’s idea of appropriate punishment was.

Understand the Consequences of Juvenile Court

I always caution parents. I tell them their punishments are appropriate. They can ground their child or take away their iPhone or car and impose whatever restrictions are appropriate. I’m not going to stand in their way whatsoever, but please understand it is important that you consult with a lawyer so you can fully appreciate what the consequences of juvenile court are.

A record could impact scholarships. Florida has the Bright Future Scholars, for children who go to a state school and maintain a specified GPA. If you meet the requirements, the state pays 75% to 100% of the education.

Something as innocuous as a misdemeanor could interfere with your qualifications for that scholarship. It can be devastating. I counsel parents to keep punishment and juvenile court separate.

Can Parents Send Their Children to Juvenile Court?

Interviewer: I guess that would go back to whether the parents are calling the police to address their children’s criminal behavior. I’m sure you’re not saying don’t call the police if you feel that you need to, but once you do things are out of your hands. Things can take a more serious tone than you would want them to take.

Amir Ladan: Yes. We never want to dissuade anyone from calling the police when it’s necessary and appropriate. That’s not at all the issue. The dialogue I have to have with the parent is to say don’t confuse punishing your child for violating the rules at home with what the legal consequences might be if you just go into court.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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