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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4779
Experience:  Experienced in both state and federal court.
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I am in Georgia. My step-son went to court today for a theft

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I am in Georgia. My step-son went to court today for a theft charge. He stole a computer from me and used it. He was ordered to go to family counciling. I (his step-father) was order to go as well. I have not been charged with any crime, nor arreste, or convicted of any charge. Does the judge have the right to order me to attend counciling?

TexLawyer :

Good afternoon. I'll be assisting you with your question.

TexLawyer :

If you have not been charged with a crime, the court does not have any authority over you.

TexLawyer :

As such, the court cannot legally force you to go to any sort of counciling.

Customer:

What should I do? The judge said if I don't go there could be legal charges against me?

TexLawyer :

Do you have a lawyer?

TexLawyer :

What exactly did the judge tell you?

Customer:

Not yet, I was supoened to court as a witness. As I stated this was my step-son who was charge with theft of my computer. The judge order my step-son to attend family counsiling and then ordered my wife and I to attend as well. If we refused we would be held in contempt. I fell my due process rights have been violated. I have no interest in attending counsiling with him.

TexLawyer :

Is your son an adult or a minor?

Customer:

Minor, he is 16. He is my step-son and not my son. He just lives with me.

Customer:

Do I have a legal standing to refuse or can the judge hold me in contempt?

TexLawyer :

I'm sorry, step-son. With him being a minor, things are more complicated. You, as a parent (even a step parent) are in a different position than if he was an adult. You are legally responsible for his care and well being, and as such, the law views you in a different light than the parent of an adult child. That said, I've never seen a judge force a parent to attend under threat of jail. In my opinion, he lacks that legal authority.

TexLawyer :

However, here is the position you are in:

TexLawyer :

You can not go to the counseling sessions and test the judge's authority. Unfortunately, that will likely result in you being held in contempt and possibly thrown in jail, not to mention the legal fees.

TexLawyer :

So, my opinion is that the judge lacks the legal authority to force you to go, but the question you have to answer for yourself is whether you believe it is worth finding out.

TexLawyer :

Also, you can try to take this issue up before-hand and challenge the conditions of probation, but a court may find that this issue is not yet "ripe," that is, there is not a real contraversy since you haven't actually been held in contempt yet.

Customer:

That is the question. I really don't want to spend any time in jail. I just applied for a FFL and I am affraid this will result in the application being denied. Should I hire an attorney to fight the order? Do I stand a change in getting the order over turned?

TexLawyer :

Yes, I think you do have a good chance. It might cost you a couple thousand dollars, though.

TexLawyer :

Any time an appeal of a judge's order is involved, attorney's fees can get fairly high.

TexLawyer :

Don't get me wrong, I think you have a very valid point, but I just want you to have all the information to consider before you decide what is in your best interest.

Customer:

I understand that. I am not worried about the cost. I just don't want the legal system over stepping their boundaries. I feel he had no right to order me to do anything. Thank you for you time. You have given me the advice I needed to proceed.

TexLawyer :

Glad to help.

Chris T., JD and 4 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you

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