Many parents fear waking up in the middle of the night to hear the telephone ringing, and fear can turn to panic if they are answered by a police officer or a jail recording on the other end. Thousands of parents receive calls like this every year, and oftentimes they are left with a bunch of questions after they’ve been informed that their child is under arrest. Sometimes parents want to get their child out as quickly as possible, while others want them to sit in a holding cell and think about their decisions. Below we walk through some steps parents should consider if they find out their child has been arrested.
#1 Stay calm
Resist the urge to panic. Although your child is in jail, remember that they are alive and in most cases uninjured. Take a moment to collect your thoughts and determine your course of action.
#2 Ask questions on the phone if possible
Although you may initially speak to a recording, you’ll likely be connected to your child or a law enforcement official. If you speak to your child, inform them that they should exercise their right to remain silent. Now is not the time for reprimand or anger. Next, ask to speak to a clerk or officer. Ask the officer what your child has been charged with, whether a bond has been set, and what the bond amount is. Write this information down.
#3 Retain legal counsel
Once you’re off the phone with the police department, call a criminal defense attorney. An attorney will listen to the information you collected and suggest a course of action. Attorneys can help get your child out of jail faster, and they’ll put them in the best position to beat the alleged charges. A specialized criminal defense attorney will have faced similar cases, and can devote more time and knowledge to your child’s case than a public defender.
# 4 Bail your child out
Although you may be steaming mad at your child, it is important to bail them out and consider punishment when you get home. You want them to learn from mistakes, but you could be jeopardizing much more if you leave them in jail for a few days. They can fall behind in school, miss tests or exams, or get fired from work for not showing up. Any resulting tickets would be a lot harder to pay off if your son or daughter loses their job in the process.
#5 Support your child during the criminal process
You may be reluctant to provide monetary support, and rightfully so, but be sure to provide emotional support for your child during the criminal proceedings. Nobody is perfect, and it’s important for your child to understand that everyone makes mistakes. One arrest doesn’t make them a bad person, but encourage them to learn from their mistake so they can make the right decisions down the road.