Although you might not think about it, if you have a teenager you should seriously consider having a good criminal defense attorney. If you think this is a crazy idea, here are some reasons why it’s not!
The farthest thing from your mind is that your little baby might commit some type of crime. You’ve worked hard to instill in them right from wrong, and know you’ve raised them well, but the fact remains they can always get involved in trouble. Usually these troubles are small, so you don’t have to worry about them, such as problems with school subjects or being sent to the principal’s office for talking in class. But sometimes the trouble results in bigger problems. When problems are big, it’s always good to follow the Scout motto and “be prepared.”
News stories on TV about teenagers can range anywhere from bullying to fighting, and can even involve death. You wonder how a normal teenager from a normal family can suddenly be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime. The future can change with the blink of an eye.
Because things can change so quickly, Lisa Green, author of “On Your Case: A Compassionate (and Only Slightly Bossy) Legal Guide for Every Stage of a Woman’s Life,” believes parents of teenagers should know and have a criminal defense attorney.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Some of the cases a criminal defense attorney can handle includes:
- Drug Charges
- Violent Crimes
- Theft Offenses
- Sex Crimes
- White Collar Crimes
When defending yourself or your teenager against criminal charges such as those above, hiring a criminal defense attorney is the best thing you can do. A criminal defense attorney can guide you on the strengths as well as the weaknesses pertaining to you or your teenager’s case, as well as explain the specific risks associated with a conviction as well as any punishment you or your teenager may be facing. In addition to helping you understand the aspects of your case, a criminal defense attorney can also explain to you and your teenager how the legal system works and the various procedures involved. When you or your teenage son or daughter are faced with criminal allegations, you need to face them with a criminal defense attorney on your side.
Lisa Green, who is also an attorney, feels every parent needs to have a criminal defense attorney. By not having one “is the unrecognized area that parents, particularly parents of teens, miss all the time. So many of our friends have armies of tutors, extracurricular activities, all sorts of angles covered … but when it comes to the law, there’s this black hole.”
Be Prepared and Aware With a Criminal Defense Attorney
The farthest thing from your mind is that at some point your child may really need to be defended for an alleged crime in a court of law. This is no doubt your worst nightmare. Being prepared can help lessen this nightmare. It’s always better to be prepared than surprised.
“I cannot count the number of kids I know, good kids, who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Lisa Green has said.
“I have now two young adults, and when they were going through their teenage years, it was a simple matter of a party that went wrong, a group of kids in the park when the police stop by and have some questions, bringing something to school they shouldn’t have. And in each of those cases, a little bit of knowledge of the law, a little bit of knowledge of what their rights are, the right way to behave, would have saved parents a heck of a lot of grief.”
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help Protect Your Child
There are various things you can do in order to protect your children and their rights. First of all, you should review any of their school’s codes of conduct. Many times parents aren’t aware that their son or daughter’s school has specific rules students must abide by. Some of these rules include the searching of personal property. Students are permitted to request to call their parents prior to any search being conducted.
“They need to have reasonable suspicion that something’s wrong,” Green said. She advises parents to talk to their teenagers about what is considered appropriate behavior as well as action versus what’s not when trying to deal with a situation such as this. Basically, parents should act as the first legal advocate for their child. When faced with such a request, your teenager should handle it like this:
“If you’re asked, as a child, for a locker search, to open a phone, to open a laptop, if it’s your property, pause and ask if you could call Mom and Dad,” Green said.
“We can act whether we’re lawyers or not as that first line of defense.”
Rules Relating to College
The rules can change a little when it comes to college. As a parent, you can set down some of your own rules as well.
“They don’t tell you about it during that fantastic tour with the kid walking backwards as your child is looking around to say, ‘Who can I party with?’ But it’s a really important set of information because different schools have different levels of tolerance for various campus activities,” Green said.
To help with this you can consult the rules regarding conduct for the college your child will be attending. This information is usually available in a college handbook included with the information packet for new students.
Are Parents Responsible for a Teen’s Crimes
As a parent you should know that if your child commits a crime you can also face charges.
“I am not advocating that kids should be absolved of responsibility. If a kid does something wrong, if they broke the law, they ought to be punished appropriately by it. But we also live in a society where we have legal rights, and I want parents to know that they should be aware of what those are so they can help their child use better judgment.”
Different states have their own laws dealing with legal responsibilities of either parents or legal guardians when it comes to criminal acts a minor commits while in their care. Many laws are passed under the assumption that the reason a minor may have committed the crime is because the parents or legal guardians have failed to provide the proper oversight and control for their child.
The parental responsibilities laws in California place the potential liability on parents and legal guardians when a minor in their care inflicts harm or death on another, or causes property damage in the form of car accidents or other acts.
Under the California Civil Code Section 1714.1, parents or legal guardians are liable for the “Willful Misconduct” of a minor in their care. California Civil Code section 1714.1 states: “Any act of willful misconduct of a minor that results in injury or death to another person, or in any injury to the property of another, shall be imputed to the parent or guardian having custody and control of the minor for all purposes of civil damages.”
“Willful Misconduct” means a minor intentionally did something on purpose.
The statute further states the custodial parents or guardians are jointly liable with the minor for damages that result from the willful misconduct of the minor, for amounts not exceeding $25,000 per wrongful act.
If a minor’s “willful misconduct” causes injury to a person, the $25,000 limit may include additional compensation to cover medical treatment as well as any other expenses related to the injury. However, the additional compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering cannot be included.
If the misconduct of the minor involves “defacement of property of another with paint or a similar substance,” the parent and legal guardian’s joint liability is still limited to $25,000.
Parent’s Liability for Teenage Driving
California has two other main statutes that deal with a parent or legal guardian’s possible liability if damages are caused due to a minor’s driving.
California Vehicle Code Section 17707 states: “Any civil liability of a minor arising out of his driving a motor vehicle…is hereby imposed upon the person who signed and verified the application of the minor for a license, and the person shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages proximately resulting from the negligent or wrongful act or omission of the minor in driving a motor vehicle.”
California Vehicle Code section 17708 holds parents or legal guardians potentially liable for damages whenever they give their express or implied permission to a minor permitting them to drive any vehicle, with the result the minor’s driving results in a car accident, whether the minor has a license to drive or not.
California Civil Code section 1714.1, the “willful misconduct” statute, limits the liability for actual damages a parent or legal guardian has to $25,000.
These statutes relating to driving by a minor gives joint liability to a parent or guardian for “any damages proximately resulting” from an accident. This non-economic compensation for losses includes pain and suffering.
Other Instances of Parental Liability
When dealing with parental liability you must remember that as a parent or legal guardian the law still holds you legally responsible for the actions of a minor under the traditional civil fault principles, known as “common law,” in addition to the above statutes.
Working with Sevens Legal, APC
After discussing the specifics of your case and the allegations you and/or your child may be facing, your criminal defense attorney will let you know the strengths and weaknesses of your case, as well as any risks of conviction or punishment you may face. A criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal or move forward to a trial, whichever is in your or your child’s best interest.
If you or your teenager have been arrested and charged with an alleged crime, it’s imperative that you contact Sevens Legal, APC, to begin discussing your case and it’s options. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
3555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-2800