If your teen has been involved in a serious crime such as drunk driving or being caught with illegal drugs in his possession, it's important to help guide him properly through the legal process. Once an arrest has been made, it's imperative to follow the proper legal steps to ensure that additional penalties are not added to his sentence. Depending on the crime and the laws in your jurisdiction, his records could be expunged or erased. Here are a few things to consider if your teen has been accused of a crime.
Speak With Your Teen
One of the first things you should do after your teenager has been arrested is to speak with him directly and privately. Try not to speak in depth with law enforcement and only answer questions that are required by law—such as personal information and facts that are already known regarding the alleged crime. A criminal lawyer will advise you to not speak to police or prosecutors freely without his representation and presence. In some cases, your teen may not be directly at fault or unknowingly made a mistake leading to a criminal offense. Your attorney may try to have the case dropped or expunged, depending on your teen's past criminal history and other circumstances regarding the charges. In some cases, even if your teen is found guilty, the case information may be sealed and hidden from public record.
Contact A Reputable Attorney
Once you know that your child is all right and you've been notified of the charges that have been filed or are pending, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Anything that carries charges more than a simple infraction should be reviewed by an attorney. This includes any of the following:
- Drunk or impaired driving
- Drug or alcohol possession
Any of these charges or a combination of one or more needs to be handled by an attorney who will fight for the rights of your teen. If the charge is considered a felony and your teen is being tried as an adult, it may be challenging to have the records expunged. Your attorney will consult with the judge and prosecuting attorney to come up with a plan that will benefit your teen, the state and any victim that may be involved in the case.
Seek Professional Help
Seeking an elimination of a court record or case is very difficult. You'll have to prove to the court that your teen is remorseful and wants to right a wrong. The first step is getting professional help through a psychologist and then through a treatment program pertaining to issues he's struggling with. This could involve outpatient or inpatient drug or alcohol treatment or a behavioral program to help give him better coping skills. Professional care may be a requirement by the judge in the case at the end of the sentencing, but voluntarily seeking help on your own may convince a judge to dismiss or reduce charges.
When you look to expunge your teen's record, there has to be circumstances that will convince the judge that the decision will be beneficial for all involved. You need to prove that it would significantly affect his life negatively if he had a criminal charge on his record. Here are some points to consider regarding the defendant in the case:
- Having no prior criminal convictions
- An excellent student discipline record history in his school
- Contributes to his church and school in a positive way
- Volunteers in the community
- Has a strong support system at home
- Engages in positive extracurricular activities such as sports and community programs
- The defendant's age when the crime occurred
- The defendant's willingness to seek help or rehabilitation
One or all of these circumstances will be used by your attorney to help petition the court for an expungement. Your teen may have to complete some form of community service or incarceration or receive behavioral treatment before the record can be expunged.
For more information, contact Novak Lee Atty At Law or a similar legal professional.