How Far Would You Go To Protect Your Child

photo by avye @ flickr.com

Scenario: You have been notified that your child has been arrested for doing something illegal. Your child has privately admitted to both you and your spouse that he did, in fact, do this thing.

Okay, it’s ethical question moment.

Would you make him accept the consequences, or would you hire the best lawyer you could afford and try to keep him out of trouble? Or is there some kind of middle ground?

22 responses to “How Far Would You Go To Protect Your Child

  1. It hugely depends on the child’s age and the thing done. But I vote for making him accept the consequences, for the most part.

  2. If they think he was really the one who shot Lincoln you need a lawyer big time. There exists pre-trial intervention for less serious things. If for drugs, you can ask to be diverted to drug court and withhold adj may occur completion course or treatment. Try to arrange pre-trial conf with juvenile DA office before lawyer. Lawyer usually $5,000 just to sneeze, so this last resort. He can do nothing more than postpone or negotiate, and your parental intervention can accomplish that without him/her. Contact teen advocate agencies for advice/guidance. Assemble school grades, character testimonial from teachers, clergy and neighbors. List community service. Prepare all this packet for judge-send ASAP and cc: DA office. Stay on top all communication. Make multiple copies of everything. His true punishment will be in that his lapse in judgment re arrest is now with him rest of life (app “have you ever…ans yes =job, school, military prob). Keep records re: closure as they will be needed rest of life. THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR ACTIONS. Best lesson for child to absorb. Jakes, what really has to be “arrested” is behavior and attitudes that led to arrest beyond just incident.

    • “…What really has to be “arrested” is behavior and attitudes that led to arrest beyond just incident.”

      Preachin’ to the choir, Carl. And it sounds like you know a lot about the process. Too much.
      I know a lot of people who would sell the family jewels, house, pet (etc.) to save their child from consequences.

      • Hon. Judge William Robertson:
        I am Jeffrey’s history teacher at North Miami Sr. H. He confided in me last week re his arrest. Jeffrey is 18 and cannot read as well as most 5th graders. But has drawing skills beyond many accomplished artists and I allow him to draw people, places and things for his grade as he cannot write either. He lives in _____ part of town with all its dope holes, drive-bys, assaults and in the general fear which is part of the daily lives of these citizens. I present myself to the court as his advocate since he doesn’t have a father. I will report on his school progress diliverable to his parole officer. Every child is worth saving, but if we extend ourselves for this young man, I believe it will be a wise investment for our community and our nation. Please extend every possible consideration in the attempt to rescue this young man.

  3. Wow. I truly hope you aren’t asking, for your own personal reference! I agree with the first post – depends on the age of the child and what the arrest was for. 2nd post – definitely good advice.

    • No, Kathy. Don’t talk crazy talk. This is born out of a philosophical discussion with a friend, but it got me thinking.

      • Whew!

        Ok, then.

        Sometimes, a kid will do something they know is morally right but legally, is wrong. Like – – – joining a protest, which may start out peacably enough, but end in people getting arrested. Still, there are always consequences – and a person has to decide for himself at some point whether or not they’re willing to face the consequences on their own – a sure sign of approaching maturity/adulthood, in my opinion.

        If the kid chooses to do something that is morally and legally reprehensible, you can still choose to support your child – but are you then starting a pattern of enabling behaviors: Junior gets in trouble, doesn’t care because parents will always bail him out so he can start all over again and get in trouble again, repeat, rinse, lather, repeat.

        I agree with Alison (who posted below) – love the child, hate the behavior.

        Every action – whether morally right or wrong – has consequences. Each person has to be willing to face the consequences. If they don’t fully understand them, then this is an opportunity for you to guide your kid through the experience (for better or for worse).

  4. Love the child hate the behavior. They must face the consequences of thier actions. That said, I would do my best to hire a laywer and get them all the help I can. Carl gives advice I hope NEVER to need.

  5. Once again it depends. On the positive side it might be an illegal but moral and laudable crime that’s been committed – I’m thinking non-violent protest here. Or possibly a breach of a disreputable law.

    But assuming that it’s a straightforward crime without redeeming features, I do have some sympathy with the idea of letting people make their own mistakes and learn from the consequences. Though the old Vietnam War saying comes to mind – “To save the village we had to destroy the village.” If the punishment meant the destruction of the child, my double standards might suddenly surface.

    • Do you think most parents are quick to assume “This consequence will be ‘the destruction of my child'”? Like say your 17-year old daughter gets caught using drugs. Let’s make it cocaine. Let’s make it an eight-ball. (I had to go to Wikipedia for the following information. “An eight-ball is about 3.5 grams, and it sells for about $90-$150.” Thank you Wiki.)

      Okay, so your daughter also happens to have a scale and she gets caught distributing cocaine to her friends. Let’s even say she was selling it. Your precious angel is a dealer. Now, I’m no prosecutor, but I’m guessing most suburban kids’ parents would likely lawyer up pretty quickly. If the parents didn’t, there might be major repercussions, right? I’m guessing most people would want L’il Precious out of jail – immediately. Or do you think parents would say, well, honey, this is a logical consequence of your actions. I don’t see a lot of that happening. And truth be told. If it were my kid, I’d want to save his butt, too. But would I be doing him a favor? Hmmmm.

  6. I guess I would always remember what I say, I love you unconditionally. However, you did wrong and we together will try to figure out what you can do to rectify your mistake. ” The punishment must fit the crime.” The most important part I’ll be there. (And without you knowing it …cry and pray… to God to help.)

  7. OMG, if my kids got caught with an 8 ball I would go ballistic and make huge scene and never let him forget what a completely stupid move that was. Is this answer wrong? I am usually a calm person, unless something truly stupid is done.

    • See, that’s what I’m thinking. Really stupid stuff. I don’t think people would be so calm. I have to admit, I know I’d be screaming. I know that doesn’t help, but I’m pretty sure someone would have to hold me down. Or sedate me. Just sayin’.😉

  8. Not that I know ANYONE who did this, but if my kid did something on the stupid side, say – Spent the night at a friends house, where I dropped him off, met the parents, talked to them, gave them my number. Then he and the 6 other boys that those parents let spend the night (it was 4th of July) decided to sneak out at 1 am and walk the neighborhood and go to the tennis courts, those kids met up with Kids A and B, who unbeknownst (yeah, it’s not a word) to the first kids were under surveillance and had already been popped for suspected breaking and entering of 77, YES 77 cars and stealing anything not bolted down. So, these kids are all together now, walking at 1-2 am in a good calm, safe neighborhood. And kids A and B decide they are going to play Jesus and “teach a man to fish” so the other group can make their own money. They basically spend 20 minutes debating (per the group of 6 individual accounts) on whether or not to do this, half the group retreats back to the house, and the other half tries to open 3 cars, takes a pack of cigarettes, change and a flashlight – SCORE! Well, all is well, no one is arrested, no one is hurt, everyone goes home and sleeps off the excitement. 2 months later – yeah, quick justice here, knock on the door and whaddya know, they’d like to speak to my child who all of the sudden has no recollection of that night. Kids A and B had finally been busted and carted to juvie for breaking in to a total of 123 cars over the course of 6 months. There were 23 cars reported broken into the night of the sleepover – so they were all charged with those.

    Longer story short, he fessed up to what he did, which was open one car and “do lookout” for another kid on the other 2 cars. He was the first kid to tell the story and got a deal, since it was his first offense of doing anything remotely illegal. He, and the other “good kids” were charged with 23 counts of felonies for theft by taking and breaking and entering. We spent a year going through court, depositions, sentencing, then he got a year of probation which is way done and over now. He was scared out of his MIND, and yes, I did do all I could to protect him, he was a good kid, he made a VERY stupid move, however he learned his lesson by going through and seeing what happened to those that it wasn’t their first time, and how serious that judge was and what a felony can do to your work, credit, life – not to mention what 23 can do.

    • Yikes! How did you hold it together! I just cannot imagine it, but I can see how a seemingly innocent “prank” could easily go awry when hanging out the wrong people. So, not that you KNOW anyone who did this, but if you did, did this person really learn a lesson? What if you hadn’t been there for support and said, “Throw the book at ’em?” That would have ended differently, right? So is the advice “on a first offense, lawyer up (if you can afford it) in hopes that the lesson will be learned.”

      Last questions, if this purely fictional person did something else equally stooopid in the future, would you work as hard to protect him? Or would you be more inclined to let him take more heat as it would be a second offense? And is this fictional person still friends with kids A and B?

      • This was about 3-4 years ago, we moved (had planned on it before the incident) out of town and NONE of the kids are in contact anymore. It was part of the probation. Kids A and B are somewhere in the adult detention system still – shocker.

        Nothing as serious happened after that, we had one incident at school during the probation, but it was more of a teenage attitude problem and was handled with the counselor (he was skipping a class).

        It would have ended very differently had I not given a crap about his future. However, I knew he was a good kid, and he had given me no reason not to fight for his future. The fact that he was 14 and stupid only made it more apparent that he had no clue about the consequences of his actions. Had it happened again, he was informed that I was OUT and not going to bat for him. This was his one shot to learn the lesson.

  9. I like that: one shot with full-court press support and then out. That seems reasonable to me.

    I wonder what happens to “good kids” who don’t have family support or families that don’t have the resources to hire good lawyers. Do those kids just head of to juvenile detention centers?

    • We were not that “well off” – in fact his lawyer was still an apprentice that was recommended through juvenile justice. He did a great job, and we all learned a ton going through it.

  10. That’s a pretty wide question. We could be talking about a 6th grader skipping school or a 20 year old who shot someone.

    Regardless of the act, if the kid is caught, you have to allow the system to do its thing. The MOST important thing is that you let your child know throughout the entire process and beyond that regardless of what consequences may be faced you still love them and will be there for them. I suspect that showing love would mean using whatever resources are available to you be it money, connections, lawyers, a wildly popular blog with images of ninja princesses…

    Then again, I’m not a big fan of chronic bailouts. Isolated incidents are way different than a pattern of criminal behavior that just ain’t gonna stop until the hammer comes down. As Metallica said, you know it’s sad but true.

  11. There are a lot of conditions with this question, for example their age and the crime they committed. If they were just a kid and did something stupid, then obviously I’d fight to keep them out of trouble because kids don’t know any better. But if they were older, say in their teens, it would be a different story. They would only get one chance. I would only bail them out once, and that’s only if it wasn’t a serious offence. After that they can deal with the consequences. But if they were to do something as extreme as murder, then they’re on their own.

There's Always Room For One More Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s