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How to respond to the arrest of your college-age child

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Many parents have mixed emotional reactions when a young adult leaves for college. On the one hand, they may celebrate the culmination of years of parental efforts. College is the first major step toward an independent life for many young adults.

However, it is a time also fraught with major risks, not the least of which is the possibility that a young adult will make bad choices and potentially end up facing criminal charges. When a college student gets arrested, they will face prosecution as an adult. The consequences of their arrest could completely alter the course of their promising future.

How should parents of a recently-arrested college student in Florida handle the situation?

Explore and discuss the consequences

Young adults typically do not have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, which means they have a hard time considering the long-term consequences of their actions and choices. A college student might believe, for example, that the best solution to their criminal issue would involve pleading guilty. They may assume that they will receive some degree of lenience from the courts because of their student status or a lack of prior criminal convictions. What they may fail to understand is that a conviction leaves them at the mercy of a judge who will ultimately decide what penalties to impose.

Additionally, criminal consequences aren’t the only issue. Their college might revoke their enrollments, and a conviction could have a short-term impact on their eligibility for financial aid. They may also have a criminal record that will limit their employment opportunities even if they finish their degree successfully.

Help to secure representation

The college student probably does not have the personal resources necessary to pay for a Florida defense attorney. Parents who have already invested substantially in a young adult’s future may feel frustrated about absorbing yet another expense, but the alternative could potentially be letting all their prior investments go to waste. Securing a defense attorney could make a major difference in a young adult’s life, as a lawyer may be able to help them avoid a conviction or minimize the penalties that the state imposes.

It is possible to provide practical and financial support for a college student facing criminal prosecution while simultaneously holding them accountable for the mistakes they made that led to that point. Helping a college student appropriately respond to criminal charges might be the single most important form of support that parents can provide when their child’s future is on the line.