When a loved one is accused of a crime, it’s a baffling experience. You may feel blindsided and helpless, especially when the crimes are shocking. Whether your loved one has been charged with a felony murder or something less severe, there are ways you can help. Here three valuable ways you can lend a hand in this critical time.
1. Take Charge of Your Emotions
The initial shock from hearing about these accusations can have drastic consequences both mentally and emotionally. Feelings of concern, betrayal, and denial are common. Depression and anxiety are also perfectly normal.
You might also fear that your family’s reputation will be tarnished, which is especially worrisome in smaller towns and cities. Having you family in your local paper’s headlines or national publications is a frightening experience.
Before you try to help your loved one, it’s vital that you take charge of your own emotions. Keep in mind that they are probably just as distraught as you. Combining these high levels of emotion can only lead to disaster. Staying levelheaded is key.
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
Staying levelheaded is, of course, easier said than done. Each move you choose to make will feel like a high stakes decision during this emotional time, and you’re going to experience plenty of ups and downs before this is all over.
While it’s essential that you provide your loved one with emotional support, you also need to set healthy boundaries for your own mental and emotional health. Don’t feel as though you can’t take a break when you need one.
More importantly, do your best to not overly involve yourself in the legal aspects of their accusations. This can protect you from being subpoenaed to testify against them. Remember, the attorney-client privilege only extends to your loved one and their legal team. When in doubt, ask their attorney what they think is best.
3. Finding Quality Representation
When someone is accused of a crime, it isn’t uncommon for them to make impulsive and emotionally charged decisions. When these decisions impact their choices on legal defense, it’s an enormous mistake. So, one of the best things you can do is help your loved one find quality representation.
Don’t let them wait until the charges are fully filed before hiring legal aid. You should also help them find an attorney who has their best interest and needs in mind. Bilingual individuals, for instance, might need a Spanish criminal defense attorney.
You should also help them choose a lawyer with a strong track record and plenty of experience dealing in similar cases. Choosing to meet lawyers with them can help with this step, especially when deciding if this representation has their best interest in mind (such as fighting the charge instead of settling out of court).
All three of these steps are the best ways you can help your loved one during this time without losing your sanity in the process. Criminal accusations are difficult for both the accused and their loved ones to handle, but you can help make the process a little easier.