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What to Do When Your Teen Encounters Legal Trouble

by Amy Sloane

Seeing the police enter their home and take their teen out in handcuffs is a nightmare for most parents. You can give your children everything they want and treat them great but still watch in horror as they face criminal charges and legal trouble. Not only can it break your heart, but it might make you wonder if you needed to do things differently and worry about what the future holds. 

Now is the time to take a deep breath and learn what to do when your teen encounters legal trouble.

Hire a Lawyer

Hiring a lawyer is always the first step when your teen gets into legal trouble. Depending on the type of crimes your child committed, the court can either try them as a juvenile or an adult. You need a lawyer by your side during the arraignment, which is when the judge will place the charges in the court record and establish the dates for all of the next steps. Your lawyer can help you during each appointment and also work with your teen to plead down to a lesser charge if possible.

Learn About the Charges

The Office of Juvenile Justice found that up to 1000 teens out of every 100,000 commit crimes every year. Those crimes range from rape and murder to drug possession and disorderly conduct. 

The type of crime and its severity are some of the factors that determine the charges and penalties your child faces. Take time to read up on the crimes before your teen’s next court date. You’ll want to determine whether or not the prosecution has enough evidence to prove your child is guilty. It’s also helpful to look at factors that might lessen the charges such as your teen being at the crime but not taking part in it with their friends.

Find Out the Punishment

Looking at the punishments your teen faces is a good way to prepare for the future and get an idea of what the judge might say. Unless your teen is tried as an adult, the maximum penalty for the most severe crimes is usually time in a juvenile detention center. These centers are similar to jails and have strict rules but only hold teenagers. 

You risk losing custody of your teen if the court determines that you cannot care for them. Even if the charges are less severe, your teen might face court-ordered treatment in a drug and alcohol facility or community service along with a steep fine.

Get Help with Bail

The odds are good that you don’t want your child to spend a lot of time behind bars, which is why you should look at Riverside bail bonds, if you reside in that area, before your teen goes to court. 

Once the judge goes over the charges and the report from the prosecution, they will establish the bail amount. Typically, the bond agency you work with will have you put down a percentage of the total amount of the bail. The agency will pay the remainder of the bail. In return, you may need to hand over some type of property as collateral to secure the bond.

Follow the Court Schedule

When you have a teen with legal troubles, make sure that you pay attention to the court schedule and follow it. The schedule will list any dates and times when your teen needs to appear before the judge. 

In addition to the arraignment when the judge sets bail, you may need to attend several appointments before your child’s hearing. Appointments can include meetings between your lawyer and the prosecution where you attempt to work out a plea deal and times where you meet with the lawyer to go over the case and any evidence you find. 

You must make sure your teen does not miss a hearing or court date as this can lead to stiffer penalties and the forfeit of your bond.

Help Your Teen

Teenagers tend to act first and think later, which can land them in a lot of hot water. Some of the crimes your child might face include trespassing, drug possession, driving under the influence, and vandalism along with serious charges of assault and robbery. 

Learning what to do when your teen encounters legal trouble is the best way to make sure you help them as much as you can.

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