Who is the Client in Youth Cases?

When your child is charged with a criminal offence, and you hire a lawyer to represent your child in court, it is important to remember that ultimately, it is your child that is the client and not you. This is so even when you have paid for the lawyer (which is most often the case). As a parent, you play a crucial role in the process, not only in helping your child through the process and with the decisions that lie ahead, but also in ensuring that his or her lawyer understands any particular challenges your child has faced or circumstances that may be relevant to why he or she has been charged. Your lawyer should encourage you to attend all the meetings with your child, in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Your lawyer should also encourage your child to consult you and include you in all decision making. Often times criminal charges can result in complex decisions for your child and it is extremely useful for a parent or family member to be able to offer assistance in working through those decisions. It is worth keeping in mind however that if at any time your child requests to have a private conversation with his or her lawyer, the lawyer cannot disclose the contents of that conversation to you as parent, as a result of the lawyer’s obligations. This is called solicitor-client privilege. Similarly, sometimes a parent and child will be at odds as to the appropriate course of action, when this occurs, the lawyer is obligated to take your child’s instructions on the issue, as ultimately, it is his or her decision to make.


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