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Parents: How to respond when your child gets in legal trouble

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2020 | Criminal Defense

No parent wants police to arrest their child. Unfortunately, it happens to thousands of 10-17-year-olds every year in Pennsylvania.

This situation can be highly upsetting for anyone. Parents can feel angry and humiliated one minute and terrified the next. Considering all the fear and confusion that families can experience when a child is arrested, it can be helpful to know what to do.

Keep your child safe

When criminal allegations arise, one of the main worries for a parent can be the safety of the child. Are they going to hurt themselves? Does someone else have reason to come after them?

If you are worried about your child’s safety, act quickly to get help and get out of a dangerous situation. You might bring a child to the hospital for observation or stay somewhere else temporarily.

Talk to your child

Accusations reflect one side of a story, and there are always at least two sides to consider. Before you punish or get angry with your child, have a conversation. Ask your son or daughter what happened and listen to their account.

Even if you think they will lie to you, giving them the chance to explain themselves or give their side can help you get a better handle on the situation.

Try to stay calm

Some parents want to immediately punish a child, vent about an incident to friends or on social media, or have a child perform some action of accountability.

However, those who react this way can make it more difficult to defend a child. As such, parents should try to stay calm and refrain from making any sudden decisions or irreversible damage.

Get help

Whether a child has been in legal trouble before or not, parents are often unprepared to handle the myriad issues that coincide with criminal behavior and charges. A child may need counseling and therapy or medication for a mental health condition. Therefore, seeking the help of medical professionals can be critical.

Talking to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible can be wise, as well. Legal guidance can inform parents on what will happen next and what the potential consequences may be, which can be critical.

It is not possible to go back and stop a child from getting into trouble, but these suggestions can make things easier in the future.