Young people can get themselves into serious trouble. According to Virginia Performs, thousands of teenagers are arrested and entered into the Commonwealth’s juvenile justice system each year. A young person may be arrested on a wide range of different charges—from property crimes to intoxicated driving to violent offenses.
For parents, there are few things more stressful and unnerving than finding out that your child has been arrested for a crime. A youthful indiscretion should not undermine your child’s future. In this article, our skilled Fairfax juvenile defense attorneys highlight four steps parents should take after learning that their child has been arrested in Virginia.
- Remain Calm, Carefully Assess the Situation
Whether you got a phone call or a police officer showed up at your front door, it is easy to panic about the seriousness of the situation. Depending on the nature of the accusations, your child may be released directly into your custody or they may be taken into state custody. Your first step is always to make sure that your child is somewhere safe.
As a parent, you naturally want what is best for your child. It is crucial that you think about their future as you help them deal with an arrest. At the same time, you do not want to get overwhelmed by focusing on every worst case scenario. By remaining calm and clear-headed, you can help to ensure that your child is able to effectively navigate the juvenile justice process.
- Talk to a Virginia Juvenile Defense Attorney
Be proactive: the juvenile justice process can move quickly. You should schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced Virginia juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible after finding out that your child has been arrested. A lawyer will help you understand the charges, assess all available options, and take action to get the best possible outcome in your child’s case.
- Know the Special Rules in Juvenile Justice Cases
In Virginia, the juvenile justice system has many unique rules, regulations, and procedures. As explained in the Virginia Rules, a juvenile is defined as a person who is under the age of 18. They are often referred to as ‘delinquents’ in official legal proceedings. The term criminal is generally disfavored in these cases.
In other words, your child may be treated differently than an adult facing similar charges (although the Commonwealth attorne can request that he court treat a juvenile as an adult, depending on the seriousness of the offense, and other factors). Usually, the Commonwealth will put an emphasis on rehabilitating young people. Many juvenile delinquency issues can be resolved with education, community service, mandatory counseling, and other rehabilitative support.
- Protect Your Child’s Future: Clean Up their Records
Finally, parents should ensure that their child’s record are cleaned up to the maximum extent possible. Under Virginia law (Code of Virginia § 16.1-305), many juvenile delinquency records are sealed, expunged, or otherwise kept confidential. Misdemeanor offenses are generally expunged after five years. However, a felony conviction may not be expungeable at all.
Minimizing the charges on a juvenile’s record goes a long way to ensuring that your child gets a fresh start. It is an important part of building a comprehensive defense in a juvenile justice case. If you have any questions about sealing your child’s record, an experienced Virginia juvenile defense attorney can help.
Call Our Fairfax, VA Juvenile Defense Lawyers Today
At Whitestone Young, PC, our Virginia defense attorneys are compassionate, reliable advocates for juveniles and their families. We will help you secure your child’s future. To find out more about how our attorneys can help your family, please contact us today for a confidential initial consultation. We serve communities throughout Northern Virginia, including in Manassas, Centreville, Ashburn, Leesburg, and Chantilly.