When someone you love gets in trouble with the law, it can be stressful on the whole family. Here are some ways you can support the family member through the ups and downs of dealing with the criminal justice system.
Provide Emotional Support
If someone you love is charged with a crime, it can be tempting to abandon them, thinking, “I can’t believe he/she did that, I want nothing to do with them!” Remember that what they’re going through is incredibly stressful and going through it alone makes it even worse.
Sometimes parents of young adults come into my office with the mentality that, since their kid is over the age of 18 (albeit just barely) that they’re on their own. I try to remind them that people in their late teens and early twenties are still figuring things out, and the criminal justice system will be providing a harsh reality check Furthermore, the consequences can have long-term consequences and affect their future.
Be There Financially
Getting in trouble with the law usually isn’t cheap. I often see family members chipping in to help their loved one hire private legal counsel, which can make a huge difference in the outcome of a criminal case. This is especially true if the relative can’t qualify for the public defender.
I recently worked with a woman in her early 30s who was charged with DUI. It was going to seriously affect her life: she would likely have her license revoked and would likely lose her job as a result. She didn’t have enough money to hire an attorney; however, she had too much to qualify for the public defender (I call this limbo), so her mother lent her some cash. In the end, it made a big difference in her case.
Do What You Can to Help the Case
An attorney generally doesn’t want his client contacting witnesses, but a family member might be able to do that if it’s appropriate. This could potentially come into play in a divorce case where there’s a domestic violence charge. In a situation like that, there’s probably a protection order in place prohibiting my client from reaching out to the spouse, even if custody arrangements need to be made, housing needs to be worked out, and bills need to be paid. While the client cannot direct friends/relatives to contact the other party, the relative/friend can initiate the contact on his/her own.
In situations like this, a family member can reach out and help facilitate these kinds of conversations. A family member can also reach out to the victim and have a conversation, asking things like, “Do you really want your spouse to face a domestic violence conviction, and the affect this may have on his/her future?” They can also relay important information, e.g., the accused is in mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, DV treatment, etc. Conversations like this may often calm down situations and help ease the family through the case.
Become a Witness
You may also be in a position to serve as a witness. You can argue something like, “I’ve known my relative for x number of years, and I’ve seen his/her spouse exaggerate on a regular basis.” Sometimes this will be helpful, other times not. It depends on the case.
Advise Your Loved One to Hire an Attorney
One of the most important things someone who has been accused of a crime can do is hire a seasoned professional to represent them in Court. If your loved one is dealing with a criminal case, call our office today at 303-449-1873 to schedule a complimentary consultation and find out if Barre Sakol is the right representative for you.