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

Interviewer: In these situations I’m sure the parents are very frightened and the child is frightened. What are some important things families can do to insure that the legal situation they are dealing with is going to be the least damaging it can be?

Hire an Attorney as Soon as Possible

Amir Ladan: I think the first step is to act quickly. Juvenile cases move along at a much faster pace than adult cases do. They have to. The timing is different in terms of what is required from the state to file formal charges.

Limit Outside Conversations

Consult with a criminal defense lawyer immediately. If possible, minimize or limit the amount of discussion about the offense you do outside of the attorney’s office. It’s certainly okay for the parent to speak to the child about what happened. However, it would be beneficial to maintain that dialogue in confidence.

The sooner you can consult with an attorney, the better chance you’ll have protecting your child’s rights and preserving any defenses that you might have. An attorney can assist in situations that can escalate if not properly maintained.

Avoid Using Social Media to Discuss the Case

Interviewer: Do you see juveniles talking about their offenses to their friends and using Facebook or other social media to discuss what happened? Are they hurting their cases because of it?

Amir Ladan: They do. Today’s younger generation seems to be open about all things. Unfortunately, that can come back and cause serious consequences down the road. Everything you post becomes public record, so to speak.

If you start posting the details of your charge on Facebook or Twitter, you’re putting it out in the public stratosphere and the details it can be used against you. Whether it’s admissible in court, per se, isn’t as much an issue, although I’d certainly be concerned about that.

Discretion Can Preserve Defenses

But it’s also a matter of how it might interfere with what the attorney’s possible strategies might be and what are possible defenses are. You want to limit all information passing on information, the same way we would instruct a client to not speak to law enforcement without an attorney present.

It’s kind of the same concept. You don’t want to put anything out there that might be twisted and used against you.

Interviewer: I think this discussion is important for children because they might not think about that as much as an adult would.

Amir Ladan: Absolutely. They really don’t consider that at all.

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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