Which one of us can truly say we didn’t get into some kind of shenanigans when we were a kid? Whether it was ditching school or tormenting our siblings, few of us escaped childhood without getting into some kind of trouble.
But there’s trouble–and then there’s trouble: the kind where the law gets involved. Drinking underage, drinking and driving underage, using drugs, selling drugs–the simple truth is that youth can be a time when decision making skills are more than a little “off-line.” Studies have shown that the human brain is not fully developed until well into a person’s 20s. Impulse control is dodgy at best, and chaos can ensue. What do you do with a kid who is skirting the end of risky behavior?
Talk to your kid
Your child has no doubt heard it a thousand times on T.V.: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything can and will be used against you”. And believe it–it will be.
No one is advocating teaching your children to disrespect law-enforcement. Their jobs are tough. But cops are paid to investigate crimes. And in that process they will ask questions. And they will use the information your child provides against your child. That is just a fact.
How can I protect my kid?
No child is too young to learn about their constitutional rights not to incriminate themselves. And once a child is old enough to drive, they risk the possibility of being pulled over. Maybe they are stopped for what is a minor traffic infraction–a broken tail light or failure to signal a lane change. But then the cop sees or smells something suspicious. The cop knows he can’t search the car without your kid’s permission–but does your child?
Your child is required to provide identification and insurance information, but beyond that teach your kid to say, “I cannot talk to you without an attorney.” Teach them to say it politely, and with respect, but teach them to say it.
Get a lawyer before anything happens
As parents, once our children reach the age where they are out with friends– whether driving, walking or biking–we lose a lot of control. We know we’ve raised our kids right, but simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can wreak havoc: Your kid may not be doing drugs, but he might be around when other kids do. Like it or not, there is guilt by association, and while he may have been completely innocent, that does not mean charges won’t be filed. That leaves your kid with an arrest record that can wreak havoc.
Whether you think you need one or not, it is never a bad idea to have a good defense attorney on speed dial. It may sound dramatic, but the fact is that many cases would go nowhere if a lawyer were involved from the first contact with the police department. Knowing a good defense attorney can mean the difference between a stop and an arrest.
Teach your kids to be proactive and to protect themselves. Teach them one short sentence: “I cannot talk to you without an attorney.”