We want you to know that you are not alone. You might be angry. You might be confused. You might be frightened. The most important thing to know, right now, is that there are things you can do to promote the best possible outcome for you, your family, and your child. I was scared to death because I had already raised my kids and I didn’t understand why my grandchild was getting into trouble. It is a very emotional situation, especially in my case, cuz I was the one making the decision of calling the police on my son. He was 14 when he got arrested the first time so I blame myself because I was like, okay, why didn’t I know that this was going on? Where was I at? I have a court date with my child and I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know who I should speak to. I just know that I have to be there. The respondent, in a short period of time has committed 3- Juvenile delinquency proceedings are very different from adult criminal proceedings. The goal of delinquency law is to provide the services that the young person needs to rehabilitate them It’s not punishment, it’s rehabilitation, so they can be good citizens and lead productive rewarding lives as adults. A typical delinquency case that goes through the entire court process will start with the child being referred from the precinct to a first appearance in the probation intake office, and that is called the adjustment process. If the case proceeds from there the first stop in court will be the filing of the petition and an initial appearance which is like an arraignment. The next step would be the fact-finding here and that is like the trial in an adult case and then finally the last step is what’s called disposition or sentence. We talk to the child. We talked to the victim. We talked to the parents and they asked questions about what happened and what factors gave rise to the alleged act of delinquency we speak to the arresting officer and then based on all of that we make a determination of whether we will refer the case for prosecution or we’ll have the case stay within the probation department for diversion. Once the Department of probation decides to refer the case to corporation Counsel, Corporation Counsel then has to investigate. We do let parents know in every conversation that we have with them, we identify ourselves as prosecutors, and let them know that you know any information that they tell us may be shared with the court. When a child is first brought to court, the first thing that happens is the child’s assigned an attorney. As the attorney for the child, we defend them against the charges and we advocate to ensure that their rights are protected. One thing that’s often difficult for parents to understand is that, as the parent, they are the most important person in their child’s life. And yet, when they come to Family Court on a delinquency case with their child, it’s the child who receives the lawyer. There were times when you’re in a room with the lawyer and your son and they want you present while they explaining what the rights are. – Right- Then, after that, I have to butt out. I have to leave the room. I think the most important thing for parents to understand is how critically important it is for a parent to be present in court on every single court appearance. It sends a message to the young person that they’re supported. It sends a message to the court that the young person is supported, and the parent has critical information that the judge may need. I’ve sat in the courtroom and I’ve seen the judge called a case and a child got up and there’s nobody there for them. Be there in court, but if the parent cannot because of the excessive days they’ve taken off from work, find a family member or an advocate that can go in your place. I think it’s really important for parents to understand as well as the public that, although we’re dealing with young people, and children’s cases, it’s very serious if a young person is involved in the juvenile justice system and family court. The judge will make the first decision about whether the child will remain at home while the case is going on or be held in detention until the next court date and that’s a decision the judge can make again and again in either way as the case proceeds through the delinquency process. In the end even if the child is found to have committed the act, he or she still will not have a criminal record I want him to be away for a period of time, to somewhere where it’s very structured. I think that would help and when he would have come out that he would have said, you know what, he would have think about it twice. Parents might think that the court is either being too lenient or too punitive and for parents who think that a period away from home for a young person is something to teach that young person a lesson or might be good for the young person needs to recognize that young people have poor outcomes when they are incarcerated often times and it’s very important that we reserve incarceration for young people who are truly a danger to their communities and young people who cannot safely be maintained in their homes. We talking about a child being locked down you know 24/7 and no I don’t think that’s an appropriate measure for no child may be of no age. We have many many good programs that help support children in the community and they’re called alternative to detention programs meaning, instead of placing a child attention, you want to put these programs in place so the children could be home productive stay out of trouble not get real rest and and yet you know obviously not pose any risk to the community or to themselves. The first thing he said when he walked in the door was, “I don’t want to be here and I don’t like this place and I don’t like nobody here.” I said, “You don’t know anyone. You just walked in the door. Give it a chance.” One of the counselors came and spoke to him. It really did the job because he came back out the room and he says, “Grandma, I’m gonna stay, and I’m gonna let– I’m gonna learn a lot of things.” Well I’m glad Marco came to this program. I’m glad because this gave him a waking call. He learnt something, he learned something from this. The judge can give a court condition that the child behave in certain ways, like maintaining a curfew, attending schoo, having good behavior at home, maybe even going to a community-based program and that will involve the child meeting with the probation officer who’s ensuring that the child is meeting all the conditions. The best way that parents can support their child is to have a lot of communication with the with the probation officer that’s assigned to the case. it’s very important to go to all appointments that are given and present a comprehensive picture of what’s going on in the child’s life and not just what’s giving people problems. When he was on probation, that was the best you know because she’d hit– it’s probably because of his probation officer. She popped up at the house, what’s going on? Where you been? blah blah blah and when he did violate, she gave him assignments he had do. Hhe had to do community service. She made him write reports you know. A parent, that’s going into court can prepare themselves by asking someone that’s been through the system, “Can you come to court with me?” Find somebody who you can talk to, who will give you a positive, you know, advice, who will help you hold on. Sometimes we just need to talk about it. It’s our own mental health. I went to support groups and that was really great because there were other parents going through the same or probably some of them was even worse. What I would say to the parent is build a relationship with your child’s lawyer. we do understand that there’s confidentiality confidentiality issues when a lawyer is speaking to a young person, but with trust and communication, I feel that a lawyer is able to explain the process. Ask them to speak to you in laymen terms so that you won’t be intimidated by the language. You, yourself, know your child better than anybody else. You know what they’re capable of. Honestly, be honest, be open, be open to suggestions and be open to voice your opinion. The court system don’t see the child as the way we as families or family members or neighbors see that the young person. I think that bringing character letters helps from family members and neighbors. Do not be nasty to anyone. Ask a lot of questions and when– Ask them about programs, what’s out there that can help, and how can they help you. Ask questions you don’t understand. Make sure that you do. What are the charges? What can it be done? Can he go to a program? Can he stay home– And forcing my son to plead guilty. If he pleads guilty what, you know, what are you offering him? –But I had to push forward and be there for them and listen to what the lawyer had to say, what my child had to say, and then I always did research and try to talk to people in the juvenile and the justice system as to what can be done. When I was approximately 14, the judge basically told me, “Well Jim I’m tired of you come into my courtroom and it seems like you’re not learning anything and it seems like your family and your neighborhood is really not capable of helping you. So she sentenced me to her, to a year. If the parents aren’t involved the kids are more likely to end up in a in the adult system and I can remember this vividly where I behaved inappropriately because I felt like no one cared about me. Who cares whether I-I hurt someone or not. Who cares whether I commit this crime or not? If you don’t have your parents involved then that can really destroy you emotionally. It could be longer than what you expect. I can’t say it takes two days, a week, a year, but never give up on your child. Never give up on yourself as a parent. The hardest job is to be a parent so just don’t give up. You didn’t give birth to a manual with your child, so it is a challenge. We have to let that child know, I don’t care what happens you made a mistake, but you know what I’m going to be with you before this happens, and if it happens it happens, and I’m going to stay behind you after it happens. Please don’t give up on your child, no matter how hard that mountain seems that hard for stay there for them. Please be that crutch and love that child even if you got to give them that tough love. Love them and let them know that no matter what you’re always going to be there. You’re not going nowhere until God take you off this earth.