By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
This article addresses Colorado Criminal Juvenile Criminal Case Defense – Tips On How To Be Your Child’s Advocate
Because Colorado juvenile criminal cases are different than adult cases, there are far fewer criminal defense lawyers involved especially at the investigative and filing of charges stages.
What follows are some tips for Colorado parents who find themselves in court where their child is charged with a Colorado juvenile crime and they do NOT have a Colorado Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
First – Stay Organized
When a family retains me – I give them one master file in which to place every scrap of paper they receive from the court or the District Attorney’s office. The papers will include the charging document, character letters, mental health and alcohol – drug evaluations, lab results, billing or payment records, and other ALL reports from ALL sources – such as the police, probation officers, court, lawyers, doctors, and mental health workers.
Second – Always Ask For Copies Of Every Report About Your Child Or Your Child’s Case
Always ask to at least read and then for a copy of all of the reports about your child and your child’s case. If there is a refusal to provide you with a copy and you have a lawyer – your lawyer can subpoena the document. If you are unrepresented -as the judge to order a copy be made and provided to you.
Third – Take Copious Notes – and Always Write Everything Down!
Never rely on your memory to recall the specifics of what people are telling you. Write down all of the information you receive from whatever source provides it.. If you have meetings with pretrial services, detectives or patrol officers, telephone conversations with the District Attorney or any representative of the court, social services, or the probation officer – WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU HEAR.
No matter who is involved in the juvenile justice system, write down what they have said and how you responded… always include the time and date, who you spoke to (their title), how long the conversations lasted and what are the plans for future meetings or phone calls.
Fourth – Never Miss ANY Meetings – Arrive On Time, If Not Early
The rush of life – jobs – other family obligations and other conflicts in your calendar will make attending every meeting nearly impossible.. Every court appearance, however, must be attended by at least one parent or legal guardian. Missing important court dates or other meetings means you forfeit staying ahead of the kind of changes that can quickly occur in juvenile criminal cases.. Missing these meetings also sends the wrong message to the stakeholders in your child’s case.
If you must miss a meeting – call someone who WILL BE attending or send a note or letter explaining in advance why you must miss the meeting.
Fifth – Educate Others About All There Is To Know About Your Child And What It Takes To Understand Your Child.
I often use the term “marketing” my client – as an expression of conveying who he or she is to all involved in the case. If you do not have a lawyer representing your child, make certain to reduce to writing EVERYTHING OF MAJOR IMPORTANCE about him or her.
This “mitigation packet” will assist the “decision makers” in the case to understand exactly who your child is.. his orher successes in school – on and off the field in sports, in church or synagogue, or his or her role in the family dynamic or in the community at large.. In short – flush out “the person” behind the black and white descriptions of what allegedly happened in the police reports.
Any information “humanizing” your son or daughter will help the DA, the probation officer, the judge and all the other adults in the case, to understand your child better.
Sixth – Always Be Polite and Show Respect – Always Be Respectful
This is tougher than it sounds…. As a parent myself – I cannot remain objective when it comes to my own children especially if they are accused of doing things they have not done. BUT – no matter how strongly you feel about your child’s situation or the stakeholders in the courtroom, helping or perhaps, hurting your child’s chances – YOU must remain respectful when you speak in court or or to any of the adults involved in the case.
Lastly – If Your Child Is Arrested – Regarding Your Child’s Arrest in a Colorado Juvenile Criminal Case
If your child is arrested:
Do not allow the police to talk to your child if you are not present. The law in Colorado is clear, the police NEED your permission to speak to your child without your permission. If the police ask you for permission to talk your child without you being there, the answer is NO. They may even try to suggest that your child would be “more comfortable” to speak about the case investigation without you in the room. The answer is NO.
You may also feel free to call me directly – right from the scene to help you make this important decision.
See your child immediately. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. Let nothing interfere with your right to see your child while they are in custody. Go over the head of the police officer or detective who is trying to interfere with that right. At several levels this is the right thing to do.
When you see your child, tell your child not to talk to the police without you – a lawyer present – or both – present.
If the police try to use the ruse “we just want HIS or HER side of the story”- don’t fall for this. If they say that your child is “just a witness” and not “a target” don’t believe it.. Even if true – that approach can and often does change on a dime.
While children are taught that the police are there to protect them and keep them safe, when the child is a target of the investigation or involved in some way with the commission of the crime – that old adage is no longer true. . If your child is arrested and transported for questioning, teach them NEVER talk to the police without you – your lawyer or both being there.
Instruct your son or daughter to IMMEDIATELY ask to talk to you (their parent) or the lawyer, if there is one. EVEN IF your child appears to not be involved in any wrongdoing, their rights must be protected…as they are very likely “cave in” to pressure from the police and end up admitting to acts they did not do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado Juvenile Case Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours.