Parents who learn that their juvenile child has committed a criminal act can face a difficult choice when the police come knocking. In one respect, you must teach your child to respect the law and punish them for their behaviors. In another respect, you may not want the State dictating that punishment.
The choice may not be all that complicated if the offense is a fight at school or a theft from the local grocery. Standing firm and cooperating with the police may be a good thing, as the juvenile will learn a stiff lesson at court and the consequences only last a short time. The juvenile may come out of it for the better.
But what if you learn your child has committed a more serious offense, such as a home invasion, or sexual offense, or shooting someone? The natural instinct may be to help by urging the juvenile to cooperate, thinking that the consequences cannot be that severe for a child. You may even provide information that you have to police.
And that is the dilemma. If you cooperate, and urge your child to cooperate, you may be branding your child with life-long consequences, such as a sexual offender registration or an offense that remains on their criminal record for life. Or worse, you may be setting them up to go to adult prison. If you do not cooperate, you may be seen by the juvenile as enabling the behavior, or even encouraging it. If you think that you can just handle it yourself by putting the child in counseling, you may later regret this when the counsellor is bound by law to report the behavior.
Many parents when faced with this choice choose cooperation. However, when the consequences are explained to them by an attorney involved after-the-fact, you can see their hearts drop. They never intended it, but just did not know.
This difficult decision should not be made alone. It is vital to have experienced counsel review the facts and guide you when making these decisions.