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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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Our 16 year old daughter was found at a party in which beer

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Our 16 year old daughter was found at a party in which beer was served. No adults were present. She had a beer.

Someone called the police about the party and when they entered the house, all kids were asked to blow into the breathalyzer.

Now we have a pending appt with a Jv court officer for an intake interview.
1. Do you think we need an attorney?
2. Should the Jv court officer or his/ her assistants or such be contacting and visiting our daughter in school?
3. Our daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD and depression. Should that be revealed on the survey form from the Jv court officer?
4. Should we sign a release to the Jv officer for school or medical records. medical records feel like an invasion of privacy an not pertinent to this matter.
Thanks for your help!

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Customer: Hi
Brandon M. :

Hi. Thank you for your questions.

Brandon M. :

Please allow me to answer them in the order that they were presented.

Brandon M. :

I will start by saying that, because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting with counsel in person. That said, (1) underaged consumption of alcohol is not an especially serious charge, but it is a criminal charge nonetheless and needs to be treated seriously. I would always recommend the assistance of a criminal defense attorney to ensure that your daughter's rights are protected and that she gets the best outcome possible under the law....

Brandon M. :

(2) When you ask if the JV court officer "should" be contacting and visiting your daughter in school, are you asking if it is legally appropriate? Or are you asking if it is likely to happen? It would be legally permissible for contact to be made with a minor during school hours, but they generally don't have the resources to make that kind of contact for such an insignificant offense.

Brandon M. :

Before I continue, does this make sense so far?

Customer: Yes. I understand. However, the Jv officers asst or such told my daughter that she should comply with interview, punishment and no attny needed, if she or her parents got fussy about it, including securing an attorney, her outcome would likely be more severe.
Brandon M. :

The court decides the punishment, and the court does not punish you for protecting your rights.

Customer: Not sure if the intent was merely, good cop, bad cop... But she went through my child's grades with her noting that she was a good student, etc...
Brandon M. :

If this person is trying to bully you, that just underscores the importance of getting counsel. Frankly, the JV officer's response is pretty ridiculous. This isn't a murder.

Customer: good poiint, though it is likely this officer who decides the punishment in this case.
Brandon M. :

The officer can make their recommendation to the court, but it's the court's decision. If the officer wanted to recommend something that was inappropriate for the circumstances, or even just harsher than usual, they would have to persuade the court that there was justification for doing so, and getting an attorney is not a valid explanation.

Customer: Another thing... I am on our school board and if the courts are using our schools to gain access to kids without their parents knowledge and consent, I'd like to get that changed.
Customer: ok. So if the Jv officer suggests probation as an example, the court has to agree to this. I understand that he is the one who decides if the charges be pursued in court.
Brandon M. :

As a parent, I am personally aghast that the laws allows law enforcement officers to come into the schools and interview children without the knowledge or consent of their parents. The students still have all the Constitutional protections afforded to adults, but that does not include notification/consent of the parents. If you want to create a policy at your school to notify parents when law enforcement contacts your children, more power to you, but I recommend discussing that policy with an attorney. You don't want to create a situation, for example, where you are impeding a child abuse investigation.

The court is not required to accept the JV officer's suggestion for the penalty. However, it is correct that the JV officer decides if the charges are to be pursued in court.

Brandon M. :

If the JV officers recommends probation, the court is not required to accept that recommendation. However, if the JV officer and the child are in agreement, the court will rarely interfere.

Customer: Ah, yes. Abuse cases would certainly be different and I had not thought of that concern.
Brandon M. :

Ready to move on to your 3rd and 4th questions?

Customer: Yes
Customer: Sorry.
Customer: Didn't scroll down
Brandon M. :

No problem. (3) Whether to include that information is up to you. I can tell you that for a first-time offense on a charge this insignificant, it is likely to have no impact whatsoever either way.

Customer: Very good. Just having trust issues on my side- my own personal problems with this situation:)
Brandon M. :

With regard to your final question, do you have any specific concerns about releasing the medical information?

Customer: no.
Customer: just too "big brother " for my taste.
Customer: what do you think could be a reasonable outcome or punishment? Goodness, we punished her at home, she punished herself and now we have this guy...
Brandon M. :

The only likely reason for being interested in the records would be to determine if your daughter has a history of substance abuse problems. The juvenile courts are suppose to help reform/rehabilitation more so than punish, especially for a substance-related crime such as this. If your daughter has a history of alcoholism, for example, the recommendation to the court would possibly be different than if there was no such history. That said, even though I can speak in these generalities, I wouldn't be comfortable making a recommendation either way without being directly involved in the case (and frankly, I wouldn't take a recommendation of someone in my position for this particular question).

Brandon M. :

As for a reasonable outcome, definitely no jail time. Is your daughter licensed to drive?

Customer: Yes
Brandon M. :

And no other criminal history, correct?

Customer: no
Brandon M. :

When you say "no", you mean that there is no other criminal history? Is that correct?

Customer: correct
Brandon M. :

There are basically two types of people in courts. First, there are people who are in and out of the system their entire lives--they are criminals and they know no other way of life. Second, you have the people who make a mistake, learn their lesson, and go on to live as productive citizens. The second group gets the proverbial slap on the wrist. For a first time offense for a MIP charge, no other serious aggravating factors at play, you would typically expect the minimum penalty of a $200 fine, plus court costs, and probation.

Brandon M. :

As I mentioned, every case is different, so there are no guarantees, but when the circumstances are not offensive, the punishment is not either.

Brandon M. :

Does that make sense?

Customer: how would probation be defined?
Customer: How would you define probation terms
Customer: Gosh, it's not severe but driving me nuts:)
Brandon M. :

The court would set the terms, but it would typically be informal probation, which means that you don't have to report to a probation officer. You're required to obey the law, not consume any alcohol, and self-report any violations for example.

Brandon M. :

It's basically a period of time when you're held more accountable. Once the probationary period ends, you're done.

Customer: Are curfews and community service common?
Customer: Thank you very much for all your help! You have helped put my mind at ease.
Customer: should be a lesson well learned
Brandon M. :

Curfews and community service are not typical for something like this. But right now your daughter is going to have to accept that she's not going to have all the answers until she actually gets into court. She can be satisfied knowing that the punishment will be proportional to the crime, and the crime is not that serious. So I would just encourage both of you to be patient and not worry about the minute details until that time comes.

Customer: good advice.
Brandon M. :

It's my pleasure, and I'm glad that I could explain the law in a way that you were able to understand. There is a lot of uncertainty when faced with these problems, but the system works surprisingly well in many situations.

Customer: Thank you, Brandon!
Brandon M. :

My pleasure. Does that answer all of your questions?

Customer: Good night.
Customer: Yes:)
Brandon M. :

Same to you, and best of luck to you both. :-)

Customer: thx
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