Michigan youth may find themselves in the juvenile justice system for breaking the law or committing an offense like truancy or a curfew violation. We have guided juvenile offenders and their parents through criminal cases.

The Association for Children’s Mental Health provides parents with tips for supporting their child in all stages of juvenile proceedings.

Parents may become involved from the moment of arrest

You may become involved in your child’s case starting with arrest, as authorities must immediately attempt to contact you if they take your child into custody. You can go the police station or juvenile detention facility and remind your child that he or she has the right to an attorney. You may also ask to attend any interview of your child. There will be a preliminary hearing at which a judge may choose among options that include informal court supervision or formal charges.

Parents have a role in informal supervision

If the court allows informal supervision, a probation officer may interview you and your child to help shape the outcome of your child’s case, and you may share important details about your child. The judge has discretion to order consequences like in-home probation, community service or time in a juvenile facility. The judge may also require that parents participate in court-ordered counseling or rehabilitation.

Parents should be present and prepared for court

In a formal proceeding, the judge will direct all aspects of the case and set courtroom rules. Parents or guardians may need to appear at every proceeding or risk contempt of court charges. If you have the opportunity to speak about your child, be thoughtful about the information you share, and stick to facts. You should keep good notes of conversations with lawyers and others involved in the legal proceedings.

A juvenile record can follow your child for life. You can learn more about juvenile criminal cases on our website.