As a busy Criminal Attorney, I see all kinds of situations. In a previous article, I observed that many times people begin to see “patterns” in the things they do. One such “pattern” I have seen, but have yet to write about, is when parents have to hire a Lawyer for their child. To be clear, we’re not talking Juvenile cases here, we’re talking about full-blown adult Court cases.
The kinds of cases that I handle can range from small things like MIP’s and Trespassing to more serious Felonies, such as Controlled Substance offenses and Theft crimes. Sometimes, the person charged is as young as 17 years old, and/or still in High School.
In terms of “pattern,” the Client comes to my office, usually with one or both parents in tow. The parents are NOT happy. Very often the incident involves them finding out all kinds of things about their kid they didn’t know, and hoped wasn’t the case.
Let’s look at an example. A young man came in a while ago with a Ticket for MIP and for Possession of Marijuana. He was at a party at someone’s house, the parents were gone, and things got a bit loud. Not surprisingly, the neighbor’s called the Police, who showed up, saw teenagers, beer, and a party. The Police arrival ended the party, but only started the trouble.
To fast forward a bit, the kids were given breath tests, and my Client, who blew a .07, was also found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was arrested, and had to call home to be bailed out of Jail. That probably wasn’t a pleasant phone call, and I imagine the ride home was not better, at least for him.
Back at home, the parents learned that many of this young man’s “nice” friends were also at the party. Not that these kids were doing anything lots of others don’t do, but the point was that the parents had to reevaluate what they knew, and what they thought they had known about their son, and his friends.
As it turned out, this young man was a Senior in High School, who has already been accepted to College. He was (and is) a good kid, good student, and all around nice young man. It’s just that he got caught partying when he told his parents he would be at a friend’s watching movies. Drinking beer and having a bag of weed on him didn’t help.
These parents were truly the salt-of-the-earth kind of people. They were, however, steamed about their son, because they could see the potential implications that his legal predicament placed him in, even though, at 17, he couldn’t fully appreciated it. They know a Drug conviction would only hinder his employment prospects, and an MIP wouldn’t be much better. The two potentially being put on his Record made things even worse.
So his parents, as many others, paid my Legal Fee, and told him he’d be paying them back. They sat in while we discussed the case, and when I got to the point of asking the young man about his prior Record, he was forced to admit he had a prior MIP his parents never knew about.
If they were steamed coming in, you should have seen them then. The reason this prior MIP thing was so important is that I was explaining to the parents that I could keep both the MIP and the Marijuana charge off of his Record because he had no priors. The existence of that prior MIP made it impossible for me to keep this 2nd one off of his Record unless I was able to convince the Prosecutor to dismiss it completely.
Thankfully, I was able to do that, and neither charge went on his Record.
The young man’s parents to their credit, set out some house rules. They told their son that since he lived in their house, things were going to be different. I’m sure they were.
Anyway, this case represents a fairly common “pattern” I see where a child is charged with an adult crime, and comes back to his or her parents for help. In the process, the parents usually learn quite a few things they never knew.
My role, as the Lawyer, is to minimize the consequences to the Client as much as humanly possible. I make sure they’ll get no Record, avoid Jail, and otherwise not become entangled in the legal system any more than they have to.
I have to point this out when the parents ask me things like “can you make sure he get’s some kind of counseling,” or “I want him tested regularly.” I have to explain that to do that goes against my role as Lawyer who’s job it is to extract the person from the situation with as little consequence as possible.
Still, as a parent myself, I can understand their concerns. I know what I’d want done if my kid was in the same situation. This is where I think parents can become helpers, without becoming enablers. They can help their child get over a mistake like the one their facing, and at the same time let him or her know that a repeat of such behavior is a choice, and a choice they won’t support or help out again.
For all of that, I have to smile at the thought of some kid coming in to my office with his or her head hanging low, as mom and/or dad stress out over the situation, often more so than the kid. I smile because I know that above everything else, these parents love their children, and are doing everything they can for them. I smile because I also know that the children will undoubtedly never fully appreciate the parent’s sacrifice until, like me, they have kids of their own someday. And, I smile because I know this is a “pattern” which, in some shape or form, has been going on for hundreds of years, and will continue to go on long after I turn the lights out in my Law Office for the last time.