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Bad Boys, Watcha Gonna Do: When Your Teen Has A Run In With The Law

It’s every parent's nightmare.  A late night call from the police saying that they have your teen in custody.  What follows is not meant in any way to be legal advice but only give you some ideas about how to handle this incredibly difficult situation.

  • If your teen is underage, remind the police that they may not communicate with him without you or a social worker present.
  • If possible, go to your teen immediately while another adult stays home and contacts a lawyer
  • Do not allow your teen to speak to the police until he has seen a lawyer.  As soon as you or your teen state that you want to see a lawyer the police must stop questioning him.
  • Meet with your child and the lawyer and do what the lawyer recommends.  Remember that they are the experts, not you.
  • Do not agree to anything until you completely understand what is going on.
  • To the greatest extent possible, protect your teen's reputation.  Don't tell anyone about what has happened unless you absolutely must.
  • Remember that even your teen is innocent until proven guilty.
  • If your teen's sentence includes community service, resist the temptation to soften the blow.  In other words, don't try to help him find a cushy gig where he can put in his hours with as little effort as possible.
  • Likewise, avoid having your teen involved with others who have had similar problems with the law. You don't want his sentence to become a school of crime.
  • Even if it is not ordered, encourage your teen to make restitution to anyone he has harmed. 
  • Consult your lawyer about the possibility of your teen having the opportunity to apologize to anyone he has wronged as part of his crime.
  • Make sure that your teen takes part in any court ordered rehab and then some.  Remember that your ultimate goal is to never have to go through this again.

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