It's every parent's worst nightmare - receiving a call from your child's school informing you that your child has been arrested. The situation can be overwhelming and confusing, and it's important to know how to respond in a way that will support your child and protect their rights.
If your child is arrested at school, here are some steps that you can take as a parent:
1. Get information: The first step is to get as much information as possible about the arrest. Ask the school for details about where your child is being held, the reason for the arrest, and the charges against your child.
2. Contact an attorney: It's crucial to contact an attorney who specializes in juvenile defense as soon as possible. The attorney can provide legal advice and representation for your child throughout the legal process.
3. Contact the school: It's also important to contact the school to find out what steps they are taking to support your child. You can work with the school to ensure that your child receives any necessary academic and emotional support.
4. Cooperate with law enforcement: While it's important to protect your child's rights, it's also essential to cooperate with law enforcement. Accompany your child during any questioning and ensure that your child does not make any self-incriminating statements. Your child has the same constitutional rights as an adult defendant has. However, it may seem that the school is disregarding those rights because they often times have flexibility in deterring crime and investigating school rule violations so there is often overlap between law enforcement and school administrators acting as investigators. This can blur the lines between when a school administrator is seeking information about a rule violation that happens to also be a violation of Texas criminal laws. Therefore, it is important to determine early on, if possible, which of the role's a school administrator is performing. Obviously, if a police officer is asking your child questions, then it is almost certain that your child's responses are being gathered in a criminal investigation context.
5. Attend court hearings: Attend all court hearings with your child and their attorney to show support and stay informed about the legal proceedings.
6. Follow up with the school: After the legal proceedings have concluded, follow up with the school to ensure that your child receives any necessary academic and emotional support.
While the steps listed above are important, there are also some things that you should keep in mind when responding to your child's arrest. One of the most important things to do is to remain calm and listen to your child.
Your child is likely to be feeling scared, confused, and overwhelmed. Responding with anger, blame, or judgment can make the situation worse and may damage your relationship with your child. By remaining calm and supportive, you can help your child feel more secure and loved during this difficult time.
Additionally, by listening to your child, you can gain a better understanding of the situation and provide more effective support. Your child may be able to provide important details about what happened leading up to their arrest or may express fears or concerns about the legal process. By taking the time to listen, you can address these concerns and help your child feel more prepared and supported.
Finally, it's important to work with professionals such as an attorney and a mental health counselor to develop a plan for supporting your child during the legal process. By staying level-headed, you can make more rational and effective decisions about how to handle the situation.
In conclusion, if your child is arrested at school, it's essential to take immediate action to protect your child's rights and to provide the necessary support. By following the steps listed above, remaining calm and listening to your child, and working with professionals, you can help your child navigate this difficult situation and emerge stronger on the other side.