I am passionate about helping families navigate the juvenile justice system. My goal as a juvenile defense attorney is to not only provide advice, but to make certain that the family truly understands the process and gets the most out of the process. I often explain my goal like this: I want to ensure that the juvenile justice process is a speed bump in the child’s life and not a road block. I like this little visual example because speed bumps are a pretty common thing we all encounter in day to day life.
This comparison helps me to elaborate on a common question I receive from parents: “how will the juvenile justice process impact my child’s future?” Many parents are anxious and fearful that this incident will be a road block in their child’s life, changing the course in a negative way. I however, do not believe this.
I believe that a child going through the juvenile justice process should be like a driver going over a speed bump. Similar to a driver who may be going too fast or unaware of their surroundings and the potential for pedestrians crossing---once they hit the speed bump, it slows them down and hopefully makes them think about their speed and driving patterns. The speed bump, while it slows the driver down, does not redirect the road they are traveling.
Since the juvenile justice process is created to be rehabilitative and not punishment oriented, families are fortunate to be working within a positive and proactive framework. In my experience, I have seen the court system work to serve the individual child and focus on providing the help they need, as well as giving the parents the support they need.
I have seen many examples of this individualization first hand. As a result of negotiating with the prosecutor, and presenting information to the judge, my clients have been asked to do some of the following tasks, which are clearly unique to their situation.
Additionally, I have seen the court provide referrals and resources to help parents. The court understands that parents may often need help and guidance in assisting their child. If the parents are willing to voice their concerns, often they can receive the support they need. I have recently seen some of the following resources provided:
While the process can be daunting, I want families to remember the speed bump visual so that they can maintain hope and a positive attitude.
Kathryn Boortz has a passion for working with youth and their families. She is the founder of Boortz Law, a law firm that focuses on juvenile defense.