Your child’s been arrested and needs your help. It’s never the call you expect, but it’s one that’s more likely to happen than you might think.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Department reports receiving more than 53,000 “referrals” annually across the state. That translates to about 1 in every 16 kids ages 10 to 17 caught and arrested for breaking the law each year.
In today’s post, we provide you with the knowledge you need when you get that call. In the meantime, if your teen’s already been arrested, finding an experienced Ft. Worth juvenile defense attorney should be your next move.
The Texas Juvenile Justice Code
The Juvenile Justice Code, enacted in 1995, was intended to strengthen public safety and promote the idea that criminal acts by children would not go unpunished.
At the same time, it focuses on treatment, training, and rehabilitation programs which emphasize joint accountability and responsibility for unlawful conduct.
All Texas parents should review the Juvenile Justice Handbook. It provides a good understanding of how criminal acts by minors are handled. This comprehensive guide covers every aspect of the Texas juvenile system, including your rights and responsibilities as a parent.
Remain Calm Throughout the Texas Juvenile Process
Just as they did when your little one was learning to walk, your teen will look to you for guidance on how to react when they fall. Back then you kept cool, told them to jump up and dust off – that everything was going to be fine, and that you were right there behind them. Nothing’s changed in the messaging.
This should go beyond the initial call, though. During the arrest, questioning, any hearings, and possibly a trial, your child will benefit most when you maintain your sound judgment and calm, professional demeanor.
Same as when they were small, they’ll pick up on your cues. It will also likely help your child’s case when a judge sees a stable parent guiding their child through this process – especially on a first offense.
Know Your Child’s Rights, But Respect Texas Authority
The handbook link provided covers everything you need to know pertaining to both your rights and those of your child, but here’s a quick list of what you’ll need to remember on the fly.
Just like any person who is taken into custody, your child has the right:
- To make a phone call after being arrested.
- To know what crimes they are being charged with.
- To retain an attorney before speaking with authorities.
Whatever you do, don’t argue with the police. Tell your child not to either. Law enforcement is not on your side (or, really, anyone’s), and becoming uncooperative can lead to more problems for you and your child.
Hear Your Texas Child’s Side of the Story
They need to know you’re on their side, and that you’re listening. This isn’t, however, the time to turn a blind eye.
Although your child may be falsely accused, don’t simply assume they’re innocent. Ask whether it’s possible your son or daughter did commit the offense of which he or she is being accused.
If yes, try to find out why – poor judgement, bad influences, emotional struggles? Whatever the cause, getting to the bottom of the matter is the only way to help prevent the behavior further down the line when penalties are far worse.
Get the Support You and Your Family Need in Texas
Your child getting arrested is a traumatic, and often time consuming event not only for them but for the entire family.
Individual and/or Family Counseling
Counseling programs appropriate for the crime will help your child work through their decision making processes. You (and your spouse) are likely to experience your difficulties in coming to terms with emotions like guilt and sadness or anger and grief. Even siblings can be traumatized by their sister’s or brother’s run-in with the law.
Professional therapists and counselors specializing in these scenarios can provide the psychological and emotional support your family may need.
Family and Friends Can Help with the Day-to-Day
Life outside of your child’s arrest goes on, and you still have your whole life to manage every single day. The weight of dealing with legal proceedings and therapy and other consequences you and your family face in these situations can be too great without the help of friends and family.
Don’t be afraid to ask those you trust to manage sack lunches, carpools, and school functions. Hire a temporary housekeeping service and meal delivery if it’s what you need in the interim.
Experienced Legal Consultation
This is not the time for skimping on representation. Your child’s future could be at stake. You need the best legal consultation available to help you navigate your child through this situation and minimize any long-term effects.
Fortunately, advances in the study of the adolescent brain point to bad judgement as an unpleasant but normal phase of life. Armed with that knowledge, legislators, law enforcement, and juvenile courts have all made great strides in the handling of juvenile crime, and an arrest, if managed properly by everyone involved, can actually prove to be a valuable lesson in your child’s life.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – an experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.