What should do if my 12 year old autistic son is being charged with assault on a public figure?

UPDATED: Feb 28, 2014

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What should do if my 12 year old autistic son is being charged with assault on a public figure?

He also has emotional disturbance and hit a school teacher. I have to surrender him on Monday to the juvenile detention center. The district attorney in my county is adamant that my son knew what he was doing. What should I expect? This is a third degree felony. Granted he did hit a teacher before but the school district has refused alternative placement for 6 months and I have asked for an ARD dozens of times. Nothing has been done. Now my autistic son is going to juvenile denetion and the prosecutor is 100% sold on the fact that he must be incarcerated. I have been told that the school is staying out of it but the teacher is pushing. The teacher is okay and had no marks or bruises.

Asked on February 28, 2014 under Criminal Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

What you do is you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney *immediately.* There are mitigating arguments that can be presented, such as your son's autism and emotional disturbance; also the school district's own fault or negligence in not placing him into an alternative program. There are also alternative "punishments"  that could be imposed other than prison, such as being sent, on an in- or out-patient basis, for some form of counseling. And there are safety issues--can a child like yours be placed in juvenile detention safely?--which need to be considered. So there are grounds to seek leniency, to seek treatment, and to ensure your child's safety, but these are not arguments that a non-lawyer can adequately make. Get a professional to help you; and if you cannot afford an attorney, speak to Legal Services immediately--they may provide assistance--and if that doesn't work, speak to local law schools and also autism advocacy groups--one of them may be able to provide legal counsel.

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