Parents spend years encouraging their children to study and make the most of their lives. A parent’s aspirations for their child can change in an instant when a teenager ends up accused of criminal activity. A small number of families in Syracuse, New York every year find themselves in exactly this difficult situation.
One of the younger members of the family gets arrested for drunk driving or a drug offense. The entire family may need to make significant adjustments because of the charges a young adult faces. Parents often feel profoundly disappointed after their child’s arrest and don’t know what to do next. The three facts below can help adults better handle any unlawful missteps that their children may have made.
Leniency is not automatic
Some parents look at an arrest as an opportunity to teach a teenager a very difficult lesson. They believe that the court process will scare the child into better behavior. They probably also assume that the penalties imposed will be minimal if the child does not have a prior offense on their record. However, judges in New York frequently hand down harsh consequences for juvenile offenders that can affect their education and possibly also their mental health. Assisting a young adult in mounting a defense to those charges will be more beneficial than leaving them at the mercy of the courts.
There could be academic consequences
A young adult does not yet have a fully-developed frontal lobe and therefore has a hard time considering the long-term consequences of their actions. They might expect a slap on the wrist and a funny story to share with others at college after their arrest. The parents in the family may need to explore the possible consequences, including the penalties the courts might impose and secondary consequences, such as ineligibility for financial aid or a college retracting an offer of enrollment.
Families must get to the bottom of the issue
Ensuring that a young adult understands the severity of the risks involved in criminal prosecution and helping them defend against the charges can go a long way toward minimizing the impact that a single mistake has on a young adult’s future. Parents may also need to bring in professional help to determine what led to a young adult’s violent outburst or abuse of intoxicating substances. If the teenager cooperates, attending counseling can help them understand what motivated their conduct so that they can avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Instead of leaving a child to their own devices after an arrest, parents often need to remain compassionate while also imposing certain requirements or punishments on the young adult. Seeking to help a child overcome a criminal mistake by seeking legal guidance is usually a better response than letting a child pay the steepest price possible for their error.