If your child is the subject of a sex crime investigation or prosecution, you’re probably feeling a lot of things: disbelief, anger, hurt, embarrassment, concern for your child’s future. All these feelings are normal and understandable.
Despite the many conflicting emotions you are likely experiencing, the truth of the matter is that you as a parent are in the best position to help your child get the legal advocacy and other interventions he or she vitally needs. Fortunately, young people facing assault allegations typically get more lenient treatment in the justice system than adults do, and if your child has a good lawyer, he or she probably can be spared life-long consequences.
To help your son or daughter get the best outcome possible under the circumstances, it’s vital to step in to provide the necessary structure for your child and to secure him or her a good attorney.
How will my child’s day-to-day life change while the case is pending?
If your child is charged in court, the judge will likely impose many restrictions on your child’s life during the months the case is moving through court. Even if your case is not yet charged in court, you may want to impose some of the same sorts of restrictions. Doing so on your own can impress a judge later and lead to a better outcome for your child.
Here are some of the restrictions courts often impose.
- No unsupervised access to phones or the internet
In this day and age, it’s all too easy for teenagers (and sometimes kids even younger) to send each other sexually explicit content over phones and internet. Even good kids sometimes get so caught up in the throes of puberty that they make bad choices. Don’t allow matters to get worse before your child’s case is over.
- No communication with the complaining witness
This applies even if that accuser is a close friend or a family member. Unfortunately, anything your child communicates to that person has the potential to be used against your child in a criminal proceeding or, worse, to get your child another charge: witness tampering. Of course, stopping all communication is difficult if the accuser lives next door or, as we sometimes see, under the same roof. Get a lawyer’s advice on your particular challenge.
- Constant (24/7) supervision by an adult who knows of the accusation
This, too, can be very difficult to implement. Maybe there is no parent available to supervise between the end of school and supper-time. Maybe the child plays on a team or has other regular activities away from home. Here, too, you may need a lawyer’s help to come up with a good plan.
How can I find my child a good lawyer?
If your child has been accused of a sex crime, the first thing you need to do is go about finding an experienced defense lawyer your child can trust. Begin the search early, even if your child is just the subject of an investigation and hasn’t been charged yet. The sooner you find a good attorney, the sooner he or she can start helping your child.
An important thing to remember here is that the attorney represents your child and no one but your child. The lawyer does not represent you as a parent or your family. Your child needs an attorney who understands that his or her role is to get the best possible legal outcome for your child, not to impress the parent paying the bill with fancy legal jargon.
An attorney should only interview your son or daughter outside your hearing so that you cannot be called as a witness against your own child. While attorney-client privilege protects your child’s communications with the lawyer from discovery, there is no similar privilege for parents and children.
This does not mean, though, that you must be kept in the dark about all the lawyer’s work. There is always an important role for a parent to play in a lawyer’s defense of a child; the lawyer will let you know what you can do to help.
The Marshall Defense Firm has defended many young people accused of sex crimes. We have experience, professionalism, and skill, as well as empathy for families going through what, for many, is the most stressful crisis of their lives. Please call us at 206-826-1400 for a consultation about how we can help your child.