What Should Parents Look For If Their Child Has Been Charged With a Juvenile Offense?

Jack: When parents don’t appreciate that anti-social behavior needs to be addressed at home as well, the courts can’t do it all themselves. Parents sometimes have to look in the mirror and say to themselves; maybe we haven’t been as attentive. Maybe we have been too lax and maybe we aren’t careful in screening the friends.

The Parents Have a Responsibility

Parents do have to appreciate that they have an important role and maybe this referral to juvenile court is a wake-up call for the parents as well.

Interviewer: Are there any other common mistakes that people make that hurt their situation?

Jack: Because parents are in court and have to be a part of everything, they want to lay the blame off elsewhere. It’s not their son; it was their son’s friends that made them do it. It’s just really important when you’re in juvenile court to say, “We appreciate our own child’s role in this and we will do what we can to help prevent repeat occurrences of this” as opposed to just trying to deflect any of the blame or responsibility away from them or theirs.

Are the Consequences More Serious If An Offense Is Committed On School Property?

Interviewer: What happens if a juvenile commits an offense on school property?

Jack: No. I just had that this occur recently. A student was bringing his backpack through the metal detector and they found marijuana. The metal marijuana pipe set off the detector. It’s something that the criminal courts frown on even more than they frown on it if you have marijuana at a public place, such as a park, but it’s not treated all that differently.

You still come to court, and in my cases I always make sure the juveniles receive counseling and appreciate that marijuana although it’s been de-criminalized, it still is not healthy because it’s usually tied in with declining grades and apathy and things of that nature.

Interviewer: I didn’t know if the schools had their own set of laws and are able to deal with an offense in their own way.

Jack: The student will be suspended and/or expelled so he or she still has to deal with the juvenile courts and the school separately.

Attorney O’Donnell Defends Juvenile Cases in new Haven and the Surrounding Areas

Interviewer: In what area do you practice?

Jack: I’m experienced in juvenile court not just in New Haven, but also in surrounding areas.

Interviewer: What counties are convenient for you to travel to?

Jack: I will handle cases in New Haven County, Fairfield County, and Middlesex County, for juveniles.

Attorney O’Donnell Offer Reasonable Rates for Juvenile Defense

I would like to emphasize that my fees are reasonable. I pride myself on making my services available and affordable to many families. I am there to help; I want to help young people. It’s been my mission since I became a lawyer.

Some People Have a Special Affinity For Their Work

I coached 3 different sports for 42 years. I have a special affinity for young people and I want to make my services available, therefore I try not to price myself out the range of affordability.

Interviewer: What was your primary motivation to become a lawyer in the first place?

Jack: I just felt I was suited for this type of work. I just felt I was perfectly suited for criminal defense work and having been involved with young sports for 42 years I’ve always had a special place in my heart for kids. With anyone that starts to stray from a healthy path, I do what I can to counsel him or her privately, represent him or her in court and get him or her back on track.

Interviewer: It sounds like coaching sports and your work as attorney help young people stay on a good path. That’s very important to you, right?

Jack: One day the judge said to me, “Attorney O’Donnell, everyone you represent here seems to have been coached by you in basketball or baseball or soccer. “

It seems like I’m always lobbying for someone saying, “Your Honor, I coached him in baseball, he’s a good kid.” Finally it got to the point where he said, “Didn’t you ever tell them about right from wrong?”

One juvenile was my shortstop, my best pitcher, and my number-three hitter. When he was 14 or 15, he wanted his mother to buy him a bottle of vodka and his mother wouldn’t do it so he hit her and was arrested.

The judge kept him in detention and we had a playoff game coming up and so I tried everything to get him out and literally my last pitch was, “You Honor, I didn’t want to have to resort to this, but he’s my number-one pitcher and my number-three hitter. I need him out.” The judge said, “As sympathetic as I am having coached myself, that’s not a compelling enough reason to release him.”

Attorney O’Donnell Life Has Been Enriched By Practicing Juvenile Law For 42 years

Interviewer: What’s kept you in the game so long, doing it for over 42 years?

Jack: I just love it. Around here I’m like a rock star. I said to my wife and everyone else, “Where else can you walk down the street and go, that’s O’Donnell, that’s O’Donnell, you’re the best.” What am I going to do, retire and go play golf, scraping around as an 18 handicap? What part of that makes you feel like you’re on top of your game?

It is much better going to court where everyone says, “You’re O’Donnell. I’ve heard so much about you. I love you man, you’re the best.” I get emails, “You saved my life.” It’s pretty rewarding.

By Jack O’Donnell

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