What Parents Need to Know About Juvenile Cases

We do everything we can to better the lives of our children, but our guidance can only go so far. Facing legal issues is a stressful experience, especially when your child is involved. Juvenile cases are treated differently from their adult counterparts. As a parent, understanding how those differences can help you and your family navigate the system and better protect your child’s rights. Every case is unique, but there are steps you can take to improve the experience. 

Key Distinctions in The Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system is quite different from the adult criminal justice system. The primary focus is rehabilitation and helping young offenders learn from their mistakes and return to normal society with a sealed record. Even though this is the goal of juvenile justice, it doesn’t always turn out that way. Depending on the type of crime and the severity, they may wind up serving sentences well into adulthood, where they spend some of the most important years of their lives incarcerated. 

Juveniles don’t experience trials and sentencing like their adult counterparts. Depending on the offense, they may be released to their parents, where they answer to a probation officer until their trial, or they may be transported to a juvenile detention center. If this is their first offense and it was non-violent in nature, they may be able to go through a community service program and have all charges dropped. 

After the First Call

Getting a call about your child’s legal troubles is the last thing you want, but there’s no time to waste. As soon as you’re made aware of allegations made against your child, or that they might be under investigation, you need to find a lawyer. Avoid speaking to anyone regarding the details of the situation, especially the school, as they might be obligated to report it to the police. 

One common misconception about the juvenile justice system is that parents must be present before their child is questioned by police. Unfortunately, no parent or guardian has to be present when their child is being questioned or processed. However, your child does have the right to have a parent or attorney present during questioning, which is why it’s important for all children and adults to understand how to invoke their rights. It’s one thing to know that you have the right to remain silent, but it’s another thing to understand the implications of speaking to the police. 

Getting Legal Help

Not every parent will have the opportunity, or feel the need to explain our basic constitutional rights to their children. For their undeveloped minds, it’s easy for them to be persuaded by intimidating police officers or investigators to talk about the events that transpired. It’s common for kids to hear things like, “We know you’re a good kid, just tell us your side of the story to set things straight.” A popular one, even for adults, is, “Why do you need a lawyer if you haven’t done anything wrong?” If you or your child are to remember anything, it’s that invoking your right to an attorney and remaining silent are not indicators of guilt. 

No matter what circumstances put your child in this situation, they have the right to a fair trial. Even if your child spoke in police presence, your attorney could make a big difference in the outcome of the case. At The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III, we will aggressively fight for your child’s rights and future. If you or your child require legal counsel regarding criminal charges or an investigation, call our office at (713) 227-4100 for assistance.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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