Things to Know About


Many parents believe they raised their children so well that they won’t do anything illegal. On the contrary, a child who’s so well-behaved at home may not be the same outside. Children, especially teens, make mistakes that might get them in trouble with the law.

If your child does something illegal and ends up in trouble with the law, it’s important that you, as a parent, know everything to expect. Here are things to know if your child is facing juvenile criminal charges.

1. The Child’s Constitutional Rights

The Constitution protects the rights of children just like it does for adults. Children have the right to remain silent, the right to legal representation, and the right to a state-appointed attorney. It’s important that both you and the child understand these rights to protect your child from any form of violation.

Talking to your child about their rights in such circumstances will help them avoid any form of intimidation that may land them in more trouble. Tell them to politely refuse to talk to the police or any other party before their attorney arrives.

2. Juvenile Justice

The juvenile law enforcement and family court records are not open to the public, but this doesn’t mean the crime records will not affect your child’s future. Some sensitive information in the records will still be shared with child agencies such as the school or law enforcement agencies.

Juvenile justice might still affect your child’s driving records, school admissions, eligibility for subsidized housing, and other programs. It’s crucial that you educate your child about these matters and encourage them to take them seriously. Getting them the best counsel may also help.

3. Staying Calm and Respecting the Authority

As a parent, you may feel overwhelmed by emotions and parental love that you find yourself acting irrationally. While you might not be happy with how the police and other concerned parties handle your child, remaining calm and respecting the police is still critical.

How you and your child act and interact with the police will impact your case. Both of you must understand that the officer has the right to do their job, and the law expects the public to respect that.

Your child will only respect the police if you’re calm and show them a good example.

4. Don’t Act Like Your Child’s Lawyer

One mistake parents make when their children find themselves in trouble with the law is to play the defense. Many believe that they know their children better than anyone and have a clear judgment on what they think their children can and cannot do.

This kind of argument will only complicate matters.

Even if you think your child is right, do not play lawyer. The child is likely to hide crucial information from you, which will negatively impact the case. Let them talk to the lawyer to avoid any bias on your side.

5. Prepare for Juvenile Family Court Process

Cases for children under 18 years of age are tried under the juvenile family court process. The process allows the child to have the same rights as adults. These include the right to go through trial, legal representation, and the right to present a defense.

The case is heard by a family court judge and not a jury.

The good news is that the juvenile system focuses on rehabilitation, supervision, and youth community service. If there’s a need for the child to be committed to secure facilities, the time is often shorter than that of adults.

Image is of a statue of the scales of justice, concept of tips for parents and juvenile criminal defense

6. The Lawyer is Representing the Child, Not the Parent

Another mistake a parent may want to make in juvenile cases is to be the one talking to the attorney. Understand that the case directly involves the child, making them the attorney’s client. You need to give them space to have an attorney-client relationship.

The child is allowed to make major decisions even when the parent disagrees. They decide on what to share and what not to share with their attorney. Whatever the client discusses with the attorney is confidential and protected under attorney-client privileges.

7. Your Child May Not Go to Jail

Many children charged with single juvenile incidents don’t end up in jail. Their cases may be referred to a diversion program rather than prosecution. They might also receive a probationary sentence that doesn’t involve jail time.

However, children charged with more serious offenses such as violent crimes, fleeing from law enforcement, gun offenses, and repeat offenses may serve jail time.

Even if they’re committed to juvenile prison, the time is usually shorter than the time an adult will serve for a similar offense.

Talk to a Qualified Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

Seeing your child being taken away by the police and undergoing questioning may be daunting. Things even get worse when they have to appear before a judge in a juvenile family court, and you can’t do anything to get them out of the situation.

If your child is in trouble with the law, the best thing for a parent is to talk to an attorney who understands juvenile cases. A qualified attorney will advise you on the best course of action, help the child understand their rights, and represent them in court.

At Johnson Johnson Whittle Lancer & Staggs, we understand your worries and your desperation to save your child. Our team of family lawyers is ready to give your child the best legal representation and ensure their rights are protected. Contact JJWLS today at (803) 649-5338 and let our lawyers take over your child’s case.