What Should I Do If My Child is Charged with a Crime?

The concerns you face as a parent when you learn your child is arrested and has been charged with a criminal offense can feel overwhelming. While your immediate goal will be to protect your child’s safety and privacy, your long-term fears may center around how your child’s future will be impacted by these charges. Will these charges affect your child’s ability to be admitted to college—or even to finish high school? Will the charges affect your child’s employment opportunities? 

In the state of Ohio, a juvenile is a person under the age of 18. As a separate “arm” of the legal system, juvenile court rules and procedures differ from adult court. That being said, juveniles have many of the same rights as adults. This means that when faced with an arrest or investigation, a minor does not have to answer questions without a lawyer present. 

Unfortunately, few children know they have this right and may feel as though they have to answer questions from a police officer. This makes it even more important that parents get involved quickly to ensure their child’s rights are protected until an attorney has been contacted.

The experienced attorneys at Horwitz & Horwitz will build a strong defense for your child while protecting the child’s rights during the investigation and court proceedings. Our overarching goal will be to minimize the consequences—both long and short-term—the charges will have on your child’s life. When your child is arrested, you must put aside your own fears and ensure your child has solid legal counsel from beginning to end. 

What Steps Should You Take When Your Child Is Arrested?

Your first step should always be to get to the police department where your child is being held as quickly as possible. If your child calls you, tell them not to say anything to the police until you arrive. Let them know that it’s okay not to answer questions and that you will be there soon. If a police officer calls you, make it clear that they are not to question your child until your attorney arrives. Whenever possible, speak to an attorney on your way to the police station so you don’t make any missteps once you arrive. Until your attorney arrives, remember the following:

  • While you are likely angry and upset, deal with the situation as calmly as possible. 
  • Try not to rush to judgment until you have heard all the facts. 
  • Once you are at the police station, try to find out as much information as possible about the charges against your child. 
  • Try to speak to your child in person, while understanding you may have limited rights—while your child has a right to have a lawyer present, Ohio law does not necessarily give them the right to have a parent present. 
  • Remember that the most well-meaning parent can inadvertently hurt their child’s case by waiving the child’s rights or agreeing to a search before talking to an attorney. 
  • Once you have an attorney on board, be sure to share all information that could be helpful with the attorney. This includes letting the attorney know about any learning disabilities or other mental or physical health issues your child may have. Information you think is not relevant could turn out to be information the outcome of the case hinges on. 
  • Once you return home, gather any documents that support your child’s case, including records of your child’s achievements. If your child’s report cards are positive, include those. Gather character reference letters on behalf of your child—but discuss this with your attorney as you will need to honestly explain why you need them to those you are requesting them from. Keep in mind that letters from parents rarely sway a judge in a positive manner. 
  • No matter how angry or upset you are with your child, do your best to reassure them, working together with your child and your attorney to reach the best solutions possible. 

Once your attorney is on board, you should let them speak to the police and prosecutor on your behalf and on your child’s behalf. The immediate goal will be to find out everything possible about the case against your child and the charges. Your attorney will find out what evidence the police have that support the charges. Under attorney-client privilege, your child can speak to your attorney in the strictest confidence, allowing the attorney to speak to others on the child’s behalf. 

How Can Hiring a Centerville Juvenile Attorney Make a Difference in the Outcome of Your Child’s Charges?

When your child is arrested, a Centerville Juvenile attorney can do a number of things that can alter the outcome of the charges. Unless the offense is so severe that your child is being charged as an adult, the Ohio Department of Youth Services generally has jurisdiction over juveniles aged 18 and under. Your attorney can do the following for your child:

  • Prior to petitions being filed, your attorney can contact the Prosecutor.
  • When possible, your attorney can request that your child be released into your custody.
  • If your child is being held in a juvenile facility, your attorney can request their release.
  • Your attorney may be able to speak to the Probation Department and convince them not to request a violation.
  • Informal supervision from probation may be requested by your attorney without the need to file a petition.
  • Your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor not to file charges at all—or to file lesser charges against your child.
  • When applicable, your attorney may be able to suggest a rehabilitation program as an alternative to jail or other punishments.
  • Often, experienced juvenile attorneys may be able to have the case against your child dismissed early on, or resolved in an informal manner.
  • If your child’s case does go to trial, your attorney will fight for an acquittal of the charges, or for lesser penalties.

How Will the Case Against My Child Proceed?

Beginning with the commission of a crime, your child’s proceedings may go straight to charges filed, then the following:

  • Summons and complaint issued
  • Arraignment
  • Plea
  • If the plea is guilty, the case will go to a dispositional hearing, then a post-dispositional hearing.
  • If the plea is not guilty, then the case will go to a pretrial hearing, preliminary issue hearing, adjudicatory hearing, pre-dispositional assessments, then to the dispositional hearing and post-dispositional hearing. 

If charges are not immediately filed, there could be an arrest, admission to Juvenile Detention Center, and a detention hearing. From this point, the case will go to arraignment and follow the above steps to completion, unless charges are dismissed, or a plea bargain is reached. 

When Your Child is Arrested, How Can Horwitz & Horwitz Help?

If your child is arrested and charged with a serious Centerville criminal offense, you need strong legal assistance and you need it quickly. The Horwitz & Horwitz attorneys have 45 years of combined legal experience. This experience allows us to accurately and quickly assess the situation following your child’s arrest. We never take more cases than we can give our full attention to, so we always put your best interests front and center. 

Once you have spoken to a Horwitz & Horwitz attorney, that attorney will be on your child’s case from start to finish—you will never be handed over to support staff. The Horwitz & Horwitz attorneys will always be upfront, never making promises we cannot keep. At the same time, we will use our considerable skills, knowledge, and experience to fight aggressively for your child’s future. Contact Horwitz & Horwitz today.