Your teen told you they were out with friends—perhaps friends you have met dozens of times and you know their parents. At first, you thought the call was a joke or a prank. Then the realization sets in that your child has been arrested for shoplifting, but they are letting you take them home for now. What does that mean? The questions are likely to begin spinning through your mind regarding how you will handle the situation as a parent and how this might affect the future. Know that you are not alone, and we can help.
Why Was My Child Released To Me?
Rather than keeping your child in jail until the criminal hearing, the police likely released him or her into your care. While your child has been released, he or she must show up for all scheduled court dates, which you will receive further information on in the mail. Failure to appear will result in a warrant being issued for your child’s arrest and, potentially, other charges. You can assist your child by watching the mailbox and following up with the court.
What Else Can I Do to Help My Child?
It is not uncommon for parents fluctuate between wanting to punish their children themselves for their misbehavior and wanting to protect them and their future from possible court-sanctioned penalties. A few helpful tips for parents wanting to achieve the best possible outcome in this awkward situation include:
• Stress to your child the potential consequences of their behavior. A conviction could keep them from going to college, receiving job offers, or renting or purchasing a home;
• Enlist them in programs that may reduce their charges. Many judges favor the idea of community service and theft intervention classes. It may impress upon the judge that they understand it was a mistake, show signs of remorse, and show a willingness to alter the behavior if these steps are begun before entering the courtroom;
• Follow up after the case is over to remove the criminal record. The arrest still shows up on a permanent criminal record and is not always automatically sealed or expunged at the time your child turns 18. You want to take steps to close off these files to minimize the influence they have on your minor’s future.
Your Child Is Not a “Bad” Kid
Everyone makes mistakes, regardless of age. Most juvenile court judges are focused on helping your child get the help he or she needs rather than on harsh punishments. With the assistance of a help of a proven and experienced criminal attorney, your child has the best chance at achieving a positive resolution to this experience. If you have questions about how you can ensure that your child has the best possible future, contact a Joliet Juvenile Defense Attorney today by calling 815-740-4025 to schedule your free case evaluation.