What to do if your child is in legal trouble

For the fiscal year of 2016-2017, there were 64,824 juvenile arrests in the state of Florida. There were 25,820 arrests for felony offenses alone. Our state takes juvenile crime very seriously. Some people have sought reforms for the justice system, impacting these processes. Until these reforms pass, our team of Florida defense attorneys wants you to know what to do should your child run afoul of the law.

Remain Calm

We understand that this can be a stressful time for you. You may feel tempted to yell at your child, law enforcement, or whoever happens to be around you at the time. This is something that is highly personal. We get that. You should do what you can to keep your composure at all times. Your child needs you, so you should try to keep a clear head throughout the process.

The First Step

In the state of Florida, police can question minors without a parent present. Your child can ask for a parent to be there, but the police do not have an affirmative duty to make sure that mom or dad are there. It works the same way an adult asking for a lawyer does. You need to make sure that your child asks for you in a clear, assertive way. That is the only way your child can protect themselves.

Many well-meaning parents let the police search their home or a car as a means of proving their child’s innocence. This is a bad idea. Keep in mind that you may not know the whole story, and the police may not always have your child’s interest at heart. Law enforcement should produce a warrant before they search.

The Next Step

Hiring an attorney is vital to making sure that your child is taken care of. You should not hesitate to get professional legal help. A lawyer will know how to make sure that your child is protected.

At this point, you will want to tell the lawyer everything that you know. If at all possible, try to gather documents that support your child’s case. Character matters in court cases. If you have them, collect positive report cards. It may be worth it to reach out to religious leaders, teachers, or other members of the community for character reference letters.

Detention Hearing

This is usually done the morning after the arrest. In all cases, it is done within 24 hours of the initial arrest. This is one area where a lawyer comes in extremely handy. During the detention hearing, a judge will determine whether the child will be released back into your custody, or if they return to the juvenile detention center.

After this point, the state will decide if they want to press formal charges. If it is a first time arrest and the crime is nonviolent, then your child may be eligible for a pre-trial intervention program. Upon completion of the program, the charges may be dismissed. This is widely considered to be the best option.

Other Considerations

If your child is convicted, the most likely result is probation. Juvenile probation works very similarly to probation for adults.

Prosecutors in Florida can try minors as adults. In fact, the Sunshine State leads the country in sending minors through the adult justice system, according to Human Rights Watch. This is the worst case scenario.

If you have any questions about the juvenile justice system, reach out to Florida defense attorneys today. The Berman Law Group is ready to fight for you. Our team of lawyers is reliable, relatable, and ready to serve you today. Call us at 1-800-375-5555.

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