Legal Advice for Parents of Teenagers
It’s every parent’s nightmare: their teenager calls from the police station.
As defense attorneys, we have counseled a number of families whose young adult has had a run-in with the local police. Please click here to learn more about the Criminal Process in New Jersey.
One of the pitfalls for teenagers during summer months is that they have more hours of free time to be with peers and possibly get into trouble. Your son or daughter may be a model citizen who has never had any kind of problems. Yet, depending on who your child is friends with, they are vulnerable to peer pressure.
When kids get together in groups, there’s always a friend who is more daring and tempts the others to follow along. Before you know it, instead of enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon, your child becomes involved with activities that lead to criminal trespass or criminal battery charges.
No parent ever expects this, but what can you do to prevent it?
Here are best practices for parents and young adults who may find themselves at the local police station:
- Parents should know their child’s friends.
- It’s always the “bad apple” in the group that initiates the criminal activity.
- Parents and teens should communicate about planned activities and have an agreed-upon exit plan.
- Question your child with specific details about where he/she intends to “hang out”
- Teens should know everyone who is in the car, whether they are the driver or a passenger. When a police officer stops a vehicle, everyone in the car is involved.
- As a general rule, never let your kid get into a car without knowing each and every occupant. Even if your son doesn’t have the marijuana on his person, he will get charged as a co-defendant with the one carrying the weed.
- Teens should be circumspect about using cellphones for calls, texts, videos and photos. All digital recordings last forever.
- Teach “communication discipline”. A heated text could be the basis for an arrest charging “Terroristic Threats”. Teach your child to keep cool no matter what.
- Teens should know their rights. They can politely say that they do not wish to answer a police officer’s questions and invoke their right to counsel.
- Take a minute and teach your child about their Constitutional rights. A five minute chat could pay huge dividends in a criminal charge.
When speaking with a police officer, we advise that it is crucial to be courteous and cooperate, by providing a driver’s license or other identification, plus vehicle registration. After that, teens should protect their privacy. “You cannot get in trouble for not talking,” says Peyrouton. “Police officers will take note of everything said in their presence and those words might be held against the teenager.”
If your child is ever arrested or being investigated, we are here to help you. But we do encourage you to teach your children to invoke their right “not to speak”. The next step should be to call their parents or the family attorney in any interaction with a police officer.
If your child has been arrested for a juvenile crime, please contact us for immediate assistance.