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Mar 142013

If you have never been involved with the “Criminal Justice System” you may be in for a shock. It should be called, I think, the criminal IN-JUSTICE system. Frankly if you are very wealthy, like O. J. Simpson, you can usually literally “get away with murder.” If not, hiring an attorney for even a simple case can bankrupt a middle class family.

Lawyers, also called “land sharks,” are expensive. They charge $300 or more per hour of their time. If you have to actually go to court on a major felony, you are talking big bucks!

If you are very poor, your child may qualify for a public defender, who is usually a young, just out of law school, over-worked, and poorly paid person. Or in some states every lawyer has to take a turn as an unpaid or poorly-paid public defender. So if they are spending time on your child and not being able to bill big bucks, you can imagine how much time they will devote to your child or loved one.

Here is a link to a very good article about public defenders.


Do you even want to hire an attorney for Junior, even if you can afford it? Maybe not, you may very well be able to talk to the judge yourself and get junior out on bail or even just released to you before he goes back for a preliminary hearing. Where he will plead guilty or not guilty. The judge may set a trial date if he pleads not guilty, or may sentence him if he pleads guilty and throws himself on the mercy of the court, and agrees to work and make restitution (if it is possible.)

If you think truly that your Junior is innocent of the crime he is accused of you might very well want to hire an attorney or secure a public defender if you can’t afford a private attorney. If Junior is over 18 or living independently and is “low income” he may qualify for a public defender based on his/her income or resources.

In deciding things about Junior, you need to take into consideration lots of things. First, many teenagers are very narcissistic (self centered) but will grow out of it, many are rebellious to one extent or another, and will also grow out of it. Many take risks that no sane adult would take, but they will also usually out grow that phase too. However, those same personality traits can also be signs of something more serious.

One of the “worst case scenarios” possible usually starts exhibiting its self about puberty and that is Anti-Social Personality Disorder, or one of several disorders called “cluster B” disorders and include Borderline Personality Disorder, Oppositional defiance disorder, or Conduct Disorder are other terms for this. Many of these young people go on in adult life to become psychopaths, and essentially do not have a real conscience or be able to have empathy. Other adolescents seem to “out grow” this and “rowdy on down.”

Bi-polar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive) is when the person is depressed at one time, then “manic” at other times. This mental illness which has a high heritability component usually surfaces about puberty or young adulthood. When a person is in the manic phase of this, they think they are invincible and may do outrageous things that are out of character and totally absurd. Even full adults who are manic may do such things as decide they have a sure fire way to beat Los Vegas and take the family savings and go to the casinos.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder is frequently found with conduct disorder or oppositional defiance. In adults with psychopathy,
ADHD and bi-polar are frequently also found as additional diagnoses along with the psychopathy. Of course, not all people with ADHD or bi-polar are psychopaths.

All of these diagnoses have a high degree of genetic predisposition, however, DNA is not (I repeat: is NOT) destiny.

Because teenagers are so volatile anyway, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between pathological and normal teenage rebellion.

Some of the questions you should seek answers to if your Junior is becoming involved with the criminal justice system is 1) are there mental health issues involved? 2) is this new behavior in an otherwise previously “good” child? 3) could drugs possibly be involved? 4) could there be abuse involved that could cause the child to “act out?” 5) how serious is the offense(s)? 6) what are the resources available to you through health insurance? School counselors? Family finances?

When our children from good families, of whatever age, become involved with the criminal justice system through lack of judgment or premeditation, or just hanging with the “wrong crowd” it can have life changing consequences. Deciding what to do for a family without previous knowledge of how the criminal justice system works can be overwhelming to say the least.

When my own son Patrick started roaming the streets at night (age 15) I didn’t see this as much more than “teenage” rebellion, even when the local cops brought him home. Things started escalating though when the school resource officer (cop) came to my home and told me that Patrick had a gun at school showing it to other students. I found out later it wasn’t the first gun he had ever stolen, as he had stolen one from my father, though he continued to deny that theft.

After I discovered the gun and confiscated it, Patrick ran away from home, and I turned him in as a run away. Since I turned him in as a run away (out of my control) I was not liable for the damage he did to the vehicle he stole. Still, at age 17, he was considered a juvenile and sentenced to counseling and probation. He told the counselor how abused he was by his family. In fact, I found out that at his trial for murder at age 20, which he made sure we did not know the date of and therefore couldn’t attend, that his defense was his “abusive childhood.”

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  6 Responses to “What am I facing when my child breaks the law?”

  1. Joyce, I really appreciate this article – I was a “problem child” as a teenager, and I DID feel remorse for putting my parents through the proverbial ringer, and I told them so when I realized how my choices were hurting them.

    When my son began “acting out,” the Juvenile Court System viewed me as the catalyst for his choices, and parents of “troubled” children should be prepared for this, on every level. From Judges to attorneys to Prosecutors to Court-appointed agencies, the PARENT is held under the microscope.

    In some cases, the parents are clearly permissive and even neglectful because they cannot be bothered enough to define and enforce boundaries and consequences. Other cases present one parent attempting to hold the child(ren) accountable, and the other parent is permissive and neglectful – this situation causes extreme anxiety for the conscientious parent because there is no support from any angle, including their spouse. Then, in other cases, the parents are doing everything that they can possibly do to get help for their children, and the children simply refuse to cooperate, comply, or care.

    A good option for parents is to seek individual counseling therapy, along with engaging their children in their own counseling. It’s no easy task to work with a disordered child, and setting aside the denial and getting down to hard work can assist a rebellious teen to work through the typical angst.

  2. Truthspeak, thank you for your very thoughtful comments, you said

    When my son began “acting out,” the Juvenile Court System viewed me as the catalyst for his choices, and parents of “troubled” children should be prepared for this, on every level. From Judges to attorneys to Prosecutors to Court-appointed agencies, the PARENT is held under the microscope.

    I so much agree with this comment, even a parent doing the best they can gets heat from the system.

  3. In our “psychologically oriented society” it is common practice to blame the parents if a child comes into conflict with the law. I have seen this even in cases where the young offender was adopted by his parent and where a faulty gene was obviously involved.
    If parents have problem controlling a child, the first thing they should consider is
    DIET! You don’t need talk therapy to control a child’s diet. Furthermore, if a parent wants to assess whether a child might have hypoglycemia (http://www.hypoglycemia.asn.au/2011/what-is-hypoglycemia/,), which is a major cause of mood disorders among children, he/she could fill in a Nutrition-Behavior Inventory test (NBI) (http://www.hypoglycemia.asn.au/2011/the-nutrition-behaviour-inventory-nbi/) on behalf of the child. A mother would know exactly how a child would respond to a question in the NBI. If the child has a high score in the NBI, it is most likely that the child is hypoglycemic which could account for his behaviour. Then get the whole family on the hypoglycemic diet. When behaviour start to improve talk therapy might be helpful.
    But before doing so, I suggest you study our psychotherapy course in full, from beginning to the end. It is explained at:
    Summary of Psychotherapy Course

    It include such things as Transactional Analysis – a powerful communication course, that show how conflict can arise, by the way we communicate. It also includes an Assertive Training Program that can help both parents and children.

    • Transactional analysis is definitely a good program to follow if there is family dis-communication with adults and adolescents, but unfortunately, for small children it is beyond their grasp except to demonstrate and model good communication to them in a nurturing environment.

      I first started reading about TA back in the days of “Games People Play” and as you see I still recommend that book.

      While I agree with you (to a point) on dietary factors in depression as ONE of MANY factors including the amount of sunlight the person receives, the amount of restful sleep, stress levels etc. as well as genetics, I don’t think that hypoglycemia or any specific diet is going to cure all the ills of depression or psychopathy and other personality disorders. I wish it would. The Feingold diet didn’t cure my son’s ADHD, but it did lower it enough that he could “mainstream” in school and in life without drugs.

      Apparently there has been some recent double blind testing of the Feingold diet and it is found that in a subset of ADHD kids it does work remarkably well. In the rest of them it is a waste of time and effort. (and believe me it is a BIG undertaking to follow that diet)

      I was reading an article not long ago about BPH the plastic chemical that has leached into the blood of 93% of all Americans at a measurable level. It was first checked to see if it caused cancer, and it apparently doesn’t, but it DOES cause ALL KINDS of problems from low sperm count to depression, a long list of things. It has been used for baby bottles and other plastic food containers, and for the linings of canned foods for decades. It is NOT inert and if it is heated it is very active.

      I have no doubt Jurplesman that in the future, the chemicals in our “unnatural” diets will show negative results on our health, both mental and physical, as well as the type of foods we eat and how they are processed.

      I grew up on a “southern” US diet of highly salted foods, bacon, ham, etc. and have recently had to stop my huge intake of sodium (salt) as I aged and I did a lot of research on our sodium intake as a society. I found that 2.3 MILLION UNNECESSARY deaths yearly are caused by the HIGH SODIUM DIETS that we Americans eat.

      I laugh at myself now because I have become a “convert”–you know the old thing like “there is no fanatic like a CONVERT” LOL So now I am starting my own AA of salt called “SEA” Salt Eaters Annon. LOL

  4. Interesting post Joyce. I can assure you that we had good result with ADHD, even before it was at all recognized to exist, by placing ADHD kid on a hypoglycemic diet. Also see an article published in our Newsletter at:

    ADHD and ADD, the Hyperactive Child by Dr Lendon H Smith —> page 7

    Yes, the influence of Bisphenol A on the mind cannot be ignored. So much can be done to help our young people by nutritional means for them to be able to live a more satisfactory life. Let us hope that soon nutritional psychotherapy will become the norm in helping people overcome their mood disorders. This can only be done by educating people from below, because you cannot expect those in charge of mental health services to abandon their privileged position centering around the lucrative drug trade.

    I have called for a new profession at:
    Creation of a New Profession of Nutritional Psychotherapist in Psychonutrion

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