We frequently get calls from parents inquiring what to do when their child gets their first (and hopefully only) run-in with the law while off to college or living on their own for the first time. While most of the time these incidents are small misdemeanor cases, if they are not properly handled, they can have long lasting consequences.
The biggest challenge we face in representing young adults is that their parents are often the ones footing the legal bill. Because they are footing the bill, the parents want to know the details of everything that occurred and want some input into the outcome of the case. Unfortunately, in this situation, the adult-child is the client, and they have the ultimate right to decide whether to go to trial or take a plea agreement and how much info, if any, I am allowed to tell Mom & Dad. Often, I’ve found that the parents themselves fall into one of two categories. Either they believe their son was only holding the beer because he is a gentleman and the young lass was having trouble holding the extra-large chugger of beer without spilling it all over herself; or they are the parents who are mad as hell and want us to make sure the justice system finds some way to punish their children so it never happens again.
As a lawfirm, our goal is to not only make sure it never happens again, but to ensure that this incident’s long term impact is minimized. In this day and age of internet background reports, it is important that one’s criminal history be brief or nonexistent to the public. Even the outright dismissal of a case can still result in a blemish on one’s record if the arrest for the charge is still viewable to the public. Thus, depending on the outcome of the case, in some cases and for some charges, the records of the arrest and/or conviction can be expunged or sealed. When a record is expunged, it is destroyed completely and the person can legally deny that the arrest or charges against them ever even occurred. When a record is sealed, it is not visible to the public, but may still be visible to law enforcement and for purposes of enhancing subsequent offenses.
Thus, the arrest of a young adult really requires two steps of legal representation. First, there must be a tenacious defense against the original charge, and second, there should be some legal work performed to destroy or seal the records of the original charge.
I hope this has been of some assistance to you. If you have any questions about misdemeanor criminal defense cases, please feel free to contact me.