Today we dodged a huge legal bullet. A few weeks ago, my son was arrested for third degree aggravated assault (against a police officer) and resisting arrest – all because he refused to leave my home after he had another one of his emotional rants towards me. I had called the police that night to remove him from my home and take him to the precinct so he would be forced to stay with his father for a while.
Because it was his first encounter with the law, the court system was lenient with him. His case was not litigated before the judge; instead, it was diverted to a probationary officer. So he is now in a 9-month probationary period where he must participate in individual and family therapy and work with a mentor, all of which is a win-win for all of us. But this outcome could not have happened had I not strongly advocated for it with our attorney.
What I have learned from this process is that the court system can only go so far when it comes to helping individuals and families with mental health issues. The court will also provide the most time & cost-effective solutions to rehabilitate juveniles involved in the criminal justice system. The probationary officer had originally recommended a review period of 6-months but I disagreed, explained our history and asked for the longest time possible. He quickly agreed to 9-months, which is the maximum.
To get to this outcome, I needed to set aside any shame, guilt or fear and to be very honest with my attorney and the officer in order to secure desperately needed support services that were just impossible to secure on our own. My son has refused any counseling of any kind and this was the time to strike. It is critical that he and other children like him receive help and sometimes that help has to be mandated. And to get to that point, with the courts, schools, etc., you as the parent have to advocate strongly for what you want and need. This is the case with me and my son. He is now obligated to participate in the most intensive therapy possible for the next 270 days. In addition, he is required to maintain peace with me and in my home and to seek effective & healthy methods of dealing with his emotional needs. If he fails to do this in the next 270 days, he risks going before the judge once more and facing more severe penalties.
It cost me $3,000 for this attorney but if the result is that the two charges are completely expunged after this and my son receives & benefits from therapy, then this experience and the cost will have been worth every single penny and more.