Teenagers make mistakes. Learning from those mistakes can help shape teens into responsible adults. However, what should you do if your child’s mistake violates the law, leading to an arrest and criminal charges?

It can be tempting to adopt a “tough love” approach. After all, fear can be a great motivator. But leaving your child to face the criminal justice system alone is risky. A conviction will result in a juvenile criminal record that will follow your child into adulthood.

The consequences of a criminal conviction are serious

If your child is convicted of a crime, the immediate consequences may mean probation and community service. However, more far-reaching consequences include:

  • Difficulty getting into certain colleges
  • Difficulty finding employment
  • Difficulty finding housing
  • Loss of eligibility for student financial aid and other loans

A youthful mistake should not cloud your child’s bright future. It is possible to defend against juvenile criminal charges and avoid a criminal record.

Addressing problems while protecting your child

Most people recognize the fact that teenagers do not have the same decision-making capacity as adults. There are ways to address a child’s law-breaking behavior that may not involve a permanent record.

If drugs or alcohol were involved in the alleged crime, enrollment in a treatment program may help your child avoid a conviction. Other diversionary programs may also be available. An experienced professional can help you explore and explain all your possible options.

Is all hope lost if your child has a record?

While the above information may paint a bleak picture, your child’s future is not set in stone, even with a juvenile record. The state may choose to “set aside” certain convictions to enable people to move forward with their lives. This option is worth looking into if your child has a criminal history.

Juvenile criminal charges are still criminal charges

You should take juvenile criminal charges as seriously as you would take an adult criminal charge. Your child has rights, including the right to defend against criminal allegations. You can still protect your child’s future while addressing the underlying problems that have led to this point.