No parent wants to hear that their child has been detained, but every parent should be prepared for that possibility. Being arrested is as scary for your kid as it is for you, so here’s how you can help your child after they’ve been detained.

Get a Juvenile Defense Attorney

Most defense attorneys don’t have the knowledge or experience to represent children in court. The legal process is completely different for children, so look for a lawyer who specializes in juvenile defense. This is your child’s best chance to get out with a clean record, whereas poor representation can result in a criminal record that will impact their life for years to come. Juvenile defense attorneys are also trained to make the legal process easier for children to understand and navigate, which can bring better outcomes in court.

Tell them Not to Speak Without an Attorney

No matter how many times they’ve heard it, tell your child to remain silent until an attorney is there to advise them. Remind them that anything they say can be used against them in court, and explain the danger of saying the wrong thing to an officer. Make sure your child knows how to be respectful and cooperative in every exchange with the police, but that they don’t have to answer any questions from officers until the attorney arrives.

Know What Probation Officers Look for

Your child’s probation officer is there to decide what to do after detainment. The first required court appearance should take place within 48 hours of detainment, after which the probation officer will write a report and either recommend the release, house arrest, or continued detainment of your child. If your child is released, the probation officer will keep an eye out for good or bad behavior to determine how the case should be handled. Probation officers usually focus on school attendance and performance the most, and a successful school life is a great indicator of responsibility and maturity.

Keep the Court Informed

Make sure the court has all the information needed to give your child’s case a fair review. Tell your attorney about any mental illnesses, special needs, or learning disabilities your child has. This information will completely change the way your child’s case is handled. Try to get character letters from teachers and family members about your child’s strengths and why they deserve a chance. Judges can read these letters to get a better sense of who your child is outside of the courtroom, so don’t skip this step.

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