A guy called me the other day wanting me to represent his 17-year-old daughter “Shelly” in a theft case. Shelly had stolen some money from her aunt (the guy’s sister). She had been stealing stuff for some time, but had never been charged. After the latest incident the family had made a police report, causing criminal charges (misdemeanor theft) to be filed against the child.
I had defended other members of the family successfully. The guy wanted me to represent the daughter “and get her deferred adjudication probation.”
I explained to him that deferred adjudication would not be a win in such a case; that a trained monkey could get Shelly deferred adjudication; that anything other than a dismissal or acquittal would remain on her criminal record forever, affecting her ability to get jobs, rent apartments, and otherwise function as a productive member of society; and that if hired to represent her I would do everything I could to beat her case, including discrediting the family members who made the police report. I declined to represent her on any other terms, and he declined to hire me on those.
The government will eagerly accept any power we give it; if we ask the government to discipline our children, it will do so with glee. But the government is a blunt instrument with no finesse. It’s utterly incompetent to discipline our children.
Parents’ abdication to the government of their child-rearing responsibilities is abhorrent to me. Every time a parent turns his child over to the police, the government becomes a little more powerful, and a little more confident that it can wield that power against the rest of us. That makes me sick.