It’s late. There is a ringing in your dreams. After a minute, you realize it’s not your dream. It’s the phone from the real world. Dream dad fades away. Real dad fumbles for the receiver.
“Huh?” You’re only half awake, but did the voice on the other end falter?
The throat clears. “Dad, something happened…can you please come to the police station?”
Every parent dreads that call. Your chest is sinking. Your heart is pumping as if you just ran a 5k. This is too much. You’re only human.
But you’re not only human. You’re the parent. Decisions need to be made right now – decisions that will affect your child’s future. You need to stay calm. You need to think clearly. I’m here to help you do that.
The First Five Steps
For a lot of injuries, the decisions that you make in the first 24-hours are crucial for your long-term recovery. This is no different. You need to stop the bleeding. Here’s what you do.
Call your lawyer.
I’m putting this at number one because I believe it’s that important. Not because I’m a lawyer. Because I’ve got kids too. Because it’s the truth. The more your child doesn’t know what to do, the more likely he or she is to say something that will incriminate him or herself. You need to get down to the police station as soon as possible, and you need your lawyer to do the same.
Here’s what you want to do. You want to run every red light until you get to the station. You want to storm in and make demands. This is your child, after all. You have a right to see them, don’t you? You have a right to get them out of there. The truth is, you don’t. The police need to do their job, and making a scene will only lengthen the process. Making a scene is going to do nothing but hurt your chances of talking with your child. Be respectful. Be calm. Listen to what the police officers say.
Instruct your child to invoke his or her right to remain silent.
If you have a chance to speak with your child, advise him or her to remain silent until your lawyer is present. Talking with the police will ONLY give them evidence against him or her. You can also tell the police that you won’t allow an interrogation, and try to keep your child from saying something incriminating.
Ask about bail.
In many cases, bail isn’t required to get a juvenile out of the custody of the police. In some cases, the police will want your child to wait for a bail hearing, but especially if you cooperate and the case seems minor, the police might be willing to release your child into your custody.
Talk to your child.
Ask him or her what happened. Don’t overreact. Believe what he or she tells you. Maybe this was a misunderstanding. Wait to hear what he or she has to say before you freak out. Let your child know that you support him or her and you will get the help that is needed.
This is scary. I completely understand that. But your family will get through this experience. Following these 5 steps is the beginning of a successful case.