Because Valentine’s Day takes place in February, love is often at the forefront of people’s minds. While several people celebrate the holiday by showering their sweetheart with gifts, I’d like to focus on a different but equally important type
of relationship: the one shared between parent and child.
Because one of my main practice areas is juvenile defense. As a Juvenile Defense Lawyer, I often work with parents whose child has made a mistake. The court typically isn’t involved if these mistakes are more trivial like forgetting to mow the lawn or missing curfew. Rather, judges and attorneys are required to step in when a child has been charged violating the law. Situations like these might seem straightforward, but when minors are concerned, cases become far more complex. The state of Georgia considers a person who is 13–17 years old to be a minor, and minors are generally tried in juvenile court for criminal offenses. However, for more serious crimes, a minor can be charged and tried in adult court.
It helps to know the process your child will face. The last thing you want is to see your child in serious trouble, but when someone you love makes a potentially life-altering mistake, you want them to learn from it. You know they need discipline for their actions in order to grow, but you also want to protect them and keep them out of harm’s way.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve found that a fair number of parents want to follow the tough love approach when their child gets in a minor scrape with the law. They are frustrated with their child’s behavior and don’t know how to fix it, so
they decide to let the court try. Unfortunately, this approach can have really permanent ramifications. While I understand that letting a young person face the consequences of their actions can be useful, in many cases, the punishment does not fit the crime. For example, a conviction for possession of alcohol or a misdemeanor possession of marijuana may not seem life-altering, but it can be. Especially in today’s highly competitive world, an immature decision made by a 17-year-old can haunt them for years, even putting their admissions to colleges and future jobs in jeopardy.
Even the most frustrated of parents have their kid’s best interest at heart, and what I want these parents to know is that even if their child consistently missteps, letting the government do the parenting isn’t a good idea. Protecting your child
shouldn’t equate to offering them up to the court. Don’t waive their Miranda rights, don’t let officers search their room or their car, and don’t submit them for questioning unless you have an attorney present.
Despite parents’ best intentions, young people make mistakes that require them to be subject to the will of the criminal justice system. Regardless of whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor, the repercussions of a conviction may harm them
for years. If your child has been charged with a violation, start by enlisting an experienced attorney who will vigorously defend their rights and protect their best interest. Doing so doesn’t mean you aren’t taking their actions seriously; it just means that you are doing what’s best for your child’s future.