How to Cope When a Loved One is Charged with a Crime

Holding hands

Having a loved one charged with a crime often comes out of the blue. Maybe a loved one was driving home after having a few drinks at a bar and you get a call at 2am saying they need you to bail them out of jail. In other instances, they get arrested and you get a call from an attorney at the courthouse letting you know they are in custody. Another not uncommon phone call we get is from a parent saying the police executed a search warrant at their house at 6:00am and the police investigation focuses on the adult child living in the home. These kinds of cases take family members completely off guard. Often these scenarios happen to people who have never encountered the police or court system before and have no idea what to do.  

The best thing you can do is find an experienced attorney who will not only defend your loved one but will walk you both through the court process. There is nothing scarier than knowing a family member or friend has been charged with a serious crime. Lots of questions enter your mind. What happened? What did they do? How could this be happening? How do I get them help? They are innocent; how do we prove it? Especially as a parent, there is often this need to know whether your child committed the crime and to try to fix it. The hardest part about a loved one facing criminal charges is accepting that there isn’t much you can do to fix it.

Cases wind their way through the court system like a nine inning baseball game. You want to jump to the ninth inning and get it over with but, unless it’s a quick plea agreement the case must play itself out through discovery, motions and then a trial.  It’s most certainly not like TV.  Accepting that most cases will take 6-12 months, or longer for serious cases, before they resolve is the first step. While every case is different and some cases resolve much more quickly, serious cases often take several months if not years. A lot of work goes into defending someone. Reviewing discovery, drafting motions, and attending court appearances are just a few of the items attorneys have to do and that is why cases take so long to wind their way through the system.

Part of the issue people encounter is their need to know what happened and why. For some clients and their family members, we advocate counseling if they are having difficulty dealing with the accusations and the court process. The counseling sessions are not necessarily to talk about what happened, but how to cope with the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty of the criminal process. While we often have a general idea of different ways a case can be resolved, there is no way to say for certain exactly what will happen. Some people though do not want to go the counseling route. In those cases, when thoughts become overwhelming, we tell clients and their family members to give yourself five minutes each day to just think about what happened. When the five minutes is up, you have to redirect your thoughts. Spending too much time dwelling on the charges, can really impact your physical and mental well-being. There are lots of different ways to cope when a family member is facing criminal charges. Sometimes though the best remedy to alleviate the fear and anxiety you feel is to retain a knowledgeable attorney who you can call at any time because the attorney can answer your questions and explain the court process to you every step of the way.

At Sweeney & Associates our attorneys are not only experienced and well trained, but we understand that it is not just one person dealing with the charges. Being charged with a crime can affect loved ones, friends, and work relationships. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime contact us at Sweeney & Associates today for a free consultation. We can be reached at (617) 300-0212 or

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