Every year, hundreds of thousands of American juveniles are charged with a crime. While many of these transgressions are relatively minor, other juvenile charges can carry harsh penalties. To make matters worse, even a small brush with the law can affect a child’s legal status and personal growth for years to come. If your child is charged with a crime, keep these important tips in mind.

1. Immediately Secure Counsel

Although child defendants enjoy the same basic legal protections as adults, they are often unaware of these rights. If your child is arrested and charged with a crime, ensure that he or she doesn’t speak to police without an experienced lawyer at his or her side. It’s important to hire a private attorney with years of criminal justice experience who can dedicate the necessary time and attention to the case.

2. Highlight the Child’s Achievements and Extenuating Circumstances

Arresting officers and court officials may show some leeway for children who can demonstrate exemplary behavior in other aspects of their life. To this end, gather testimony from teachers, community members and role models as well as documentation like report cards, scholarships and athletic honors. If your child has a mental or physical handicap, be sure to highlight its nature as well.

3. Understand the Consequences of a Conviction

If your child is convicted of a crime, he or she may face certain consequences. These include:

• In-home probation that allows your child to remain in your custody

• Temporary or permanent transfer to foster care

• Temporary internment in a juvenile detention or work facility

To increase the chances that he or she will be allowed to remain in your care, use testimony from witnesses as well as financial and social records to demonstrate that your home is a safe, nurturing environment.

If your child is charged with a crime, it’s crucial to follow the steps that we’ve outlined above. Since he or she will expect to receive unconditional support and guidance during the ordeal, you’ll also need to keep close track of his or her emotional state. Of course, dealing with a criminal charge is difficult under any circumstances. If you need legal help at any point during the process, contact one of our experienced criminal law attorneys at (317) 842-8283 or fill out our contact form and an attorney will call you to discuss your child’s case.