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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney and Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 36125
Experience:  30 years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
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We have a 15 year old daughter, will be sixteen next week.

Customer Question

Hello. We have a 15 year old daughter, will be sixteen next week. We adopted her from Russia when she was 3 1/2 and were told that due to the abuse she had been thru during those 3 years, she may act out during her adolescent years - she has. I had her in a private school a couple of years ago and she was doing very well and associated with good friends. During a summer between school years, she was with friends and made a bad choice and drank to the point of intoxication. She was found in the street and apprehended by police. The county then got involved and put her through a few of their programs. During this time, we noticed she was getting progressively worse, as she was exposed to some real thugs. Eventually, she became a thug herself and becoming extremely disrespectful to us, law enforcement, and teachers at school. We kept looking for consequences that we assumed would be set forth by the county, but nothing. Even the teachers and police liaison officer at schools made calls to the county pleading for them to step up with consequences, but nothing. Her mother and I were getting very fed up with the county as our daughter continued to spiral down. Finally, after skipping school many times, a judge from another county held truancy court at her school. He gave me a talk and I was able to tell him all that had been going on besides her being truant. Finally - a consequence! He sent her to shelter care and had her write a 1000 word theme about being disrespectful. This REALLY got her attention. She turned everything around and her grades were now A's and B's, her attitude was really good, and I would get compliments from her teachers and other faculty members at school - I was very proud. Then, she got a boyfriend that was older, far more street smart, and experienced - she said she loved him. I had control at home, but she again started skipping out of school to be with him. It got to the point where the judge pulled her into truancy court again. Again, I received a chance to talk, and the judge put her back into shelter care and also gave her an electronic bracelet for 30 days, but if she showed good behavior, that time with the bracelet would be reduced.
After a week in shelter care, my daughter left with another girl. They stole a truck and were involved in a high speed chase through 3 counties finally being stopped when the cops used stop sticks to pop her tires and she gradually lost control and spun into a ditch - nobody was injured. When the cops tried to pull the spike strip out of the road, the rope broke and 6 other cars drove over them popping all of their tires. When the police apprehended her she showed no remorse at all and said she did it because it was fun.
We had a short hearing yesterday and the county said they would like to have this waived into adult court because they've tried everything in juvenile and it wasn't effective for her - even going on to say that her parents were not on board being a big factor for their programs not being effective. This county has an already tarnished reputation. Ive been told many times by police, principals, police officers, etc.. that if I lived 2 blocks to the north, and I was in Outagamie County, her problem would have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.
My question to you: What is the difference between this being handled in juvenile or adult court for her. And, should we hire an attorney for ourselves to protect us. Are we liable for all damages or fines that may be incurred in this case?
Thank you!
Tim T
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good morning Tim,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

The differences between the behavior being handled in adult criminal court as opposed to juvenile court include the fact that adult court prosecutions are not private buy fully open to the public, and a finding of culpability in adult court results in a public record conviction of a crime which may negatively effect your daughter the rest of her life. Adults with prior criminal histories generally find themselves sentenced to jail or prison on conviction and not just released to the community or to relatives.

While incarceration would be initially in a juvenile detention center, upon her reaching age 18 instead of getting out, she would typically be transferred to state jail or prison.

Given the possibility that she could be incarcerated for a lengthy period of time for this latest incident, and the possibility that she will this time be moved to an adult criminal court, it is in your daughter's best interest that she retain a local criminal defense attorney familiar with minors being tried in the adult criminal courts.

As for fines and money damages that the court is likely to order be paid in restitution to the victims who suffered losses, yes, you as the parents are generally liable for the fines and restitution based on the intentional acts of your child, and this also leave open the possibility that the parties who have suffered losses as a result of your daughter's actions (owner of the truck which was stolen as well as the cars whose tires were damaged by the broken spike strip as well). So it is important that your daughter have a good criminal defense attorney who will represent the interests of your daughter and yours at the same time based on the fact that restitution ordered against her can be asserted against you as the parents.

You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

Kindly, remember to rate my service to you. That is how I am credited for assisting you.

I wish you and yours the best this holiday season,

Doug

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