Most kids who brush up against the law do not need arresting to set them straight, much less a criminal charge or a conviction. Every family should have the greatest opportunity possible to address problem behavior privately — rather than involve the courts.

If you and your child want to personally take control of your family’s future, you need to successfully navigate the criminal justice system. This often means securing the best possible outcome of an arrest and following through on all of the requirements.

First steps

In many important ways, police officers treat children similarly to the way they treat adults. One of the most important similarity is that they will attempt to get you and your child to weaken your defense. Your best initial approach would be to protect your rights as much as possible.

Children have some special rights and privileges when it comes to punishment in the North Carolina court system. However, you may not need to rely on them, depending on the evidence of your case. It is important to think beyond what the police and prosecutors are telling you, no matter how sympathetic they might seem.

Second chances

If there is some sort of official consequence once you resolve your case, it is important to follow through on all requirements. Special provisions, such as lighter sentences, could depend on cooperation. Of course, you would also probably want to help your child understand the importance of this second chance for a clean record.

The juvenile court system is different than adult courts. However, it is still an adversarial process where your family stands against the state. Please be prepared to defend your rights.