What You Need to Know if Your Child is Arrested
No parent wants to find out that their child committed a crime or helped others do so. But most parents understand that kids, especially teenagers, make poor decisions that may be impulsive and highly illogical. Sometimes, these decisions land them in handcuffs or mark them as suspects in criminal investigations.
No matter how many times you explained to your child the possible consequences of breaking the law, and what seemingly benign actions are illegal, a parent’s lessons are often no match for the irrational decision-making skills and peer pressure teens are often subjected to.
If your child is under 18 and facing a criminal charge in Orlando, the attorneys with The Umansky Law Firm understand what you’re going through and hope to provide supportive legal counsel to help you and your child overcome the challenges that lay ahead.
Why Was My Child Arrested for a Crime?
In the immediate aftermath of a juvenile arrest, parents often ride an emotional rollercoaster. Surely your parenting skills aren’t so inadequate that they led to your child making bad choices, leading to their ultimate criminal record? What many parents may not know is that there’s a biological reason many teenagers can’t think and act like rational adults. The adolescent brain has a different composition than the adult brain, which likely contributes to irrational behavior and high mortality rates among teens.
The rate of death by injury among teens 15-19 is six times that of children ages 10 to 14. Not only is the mortality rate higher among teens, but so is criminal behavior and alcohol abuse. As a parent, you cannot blame yourself for what you might perceive as shortcomings in your child’s upbringing. However, your child will need you to support him or her through this ordeal. In turn, you may also benefit from ongoing counseling.
A Teen’s Arrest Can Devastate Your Family
If your child gets arrested, it’s a traumatic experience for the entire family. Being involved in the juvenile justice system in Florida can be draining, distressing, and demanding. Even though law enforcement officers expect teens and young adults to sometimes break the law, their job is to enforce the law rather than help your child understand what he or she did wrong.
The results of your child’s case can be influenced by a number of parties, including the arresting officer(s), the prosecution, the judge, and others, but you cannot downplay the importance of hiring a qualified juvenile defense lawyer in Orlando. Often, your child’s advocate is the key to their avoiding jail time and paying for their mistake for the rest of their life.
Understanding Juvenile Court in Florida
Juvenile court is a special system that handles offenses and civil infractions committed by children under 18. Depending on the offense your child is accused of and his or her age, plus other factors, he may go to juvenile or adult court. If your child’s case goes through the juvenile justice system, the juvenile justice process in Florida follows several steps that differ from the adult process.
- Adjudicatory Hearing
- Criminal Court
Detention is the most critical moment — this is when police take custody of your child and send them to a short term juvenile assessment facility. This is when they will call to inform you of the situation. Detention is the best time to get a lawyer involved.
The arraignment is when the court decides whether to charge your child with a crime. Factors that may influence their decision include:
- The seriousness of the offense
- Your child’s age
- Any existing criminal history
- Evidence against your child
- Social history
- School records
Juvenile Adjudicatory Hearing
A juvenile adjudicatory hearing is like a trial for adults, except that, in your child’s case, he or she will be tried by a judge rather than a jury of their peers. The judge may sentence your child to a diversion program or detention facility after reviewing the facts of the case.
If your child committed a felony and/or violent crime, their case may be transferred to the adult criminal court. Your lawyer’s goal should be to avoid having your child tried as an adult at all costs.
Probation is possible even after your child completes a diversion program or sentence. Your child may be sentenced to probation for months to years. While they’re on probation, they’ll need to report to probation officers regularly. Failing to do so could land them back in juvenile detention.
Tips for Parents in the Juvenile Justice System
The following tips could help you and your child endure the juvenile justice system:
- Don’t argue with police officers
- Find a local or online support system for parents with incarcerated children
- Establish a network of support for your family so you can dedicate time to your child’s case
- Seek mental health counseling for yourself
- Trust a qualified attorney for legal counsel
Hiring a Quality Juvenile Defense Lawyer
The best time to hire a juvenile defense lawyer is as soon as possible during the detention phase. The sooner an attorney becomes involved with the case, the more effective your child’s defense can be.
Attorneys with The Umansky Law Firm have more than 100 years of combined experience protecting the rights of juveniles facing criminal charges in Central Florida. We believe that everyone — especially a child — deserves a second chance. Call our office for a free consultation at any time of day, or complete our contact form.