How to Approach Your Family When Facing Criminal Charges


A worry many people have after an arrest is how to tell their family what happened. Whether they’re worried about talking to their spouse,  parents, or kids, it’s natural to wonder how the news will be taken and whether they’ll get the support they need through this time. Before speaking with your family members, learn how to handle this conversation.

Contact a Lawyer First

After an arrest, it’s imperative to speak with a lawyer before doing anything else. This enables you to learn more about the charges you’re facing and to see your legal options. The information gained speaking with a lawyer is helpful when telling family members about the arrest as it can help you explain everything more clearly. The lawyer can also help explain what can be discussed and what should be avoided as well as provide tips on how to tell family members about the arrest.

Explain What Happened

The first part of the discussion should focus on explaining what happened that led to the arrest. It’s going to be important to explain this as clearly as possible, and it may be a good idea to express regret for what happened as well as explain you have learned your lesson and won’t make the same mistakes again. It is important at this stage, however, to avoid being specific.

Your lawyer may advise you to keep details to a minimum to avoid endangering your defense. If they press for more details, let them know your lawyer has advised against sharing all details of the case. Remember, anything you tell a family member could end up being used against you in court, so avoid sharing details that could make you appear guilty.

Explain What Could Happen

Family members will likely be worried about what will happen as a result of the arrest and will have many questions about what happens going forward. Your lawyer can explain whether the case is a felony or misdemeanor, what the differences are, and what you can expect if you are convicted.

Share this information with your family members so they will be prepared if you may need to spend some time in jail after a conviction. Explain the worst-case scenario and let them know what the lawyer is doing to minimize the potential for a conviction and for the maximum penalties.

Keep Them Updated on the Case

Family members are going to want to know what happens as the case progresses. While it’s still not a good idea to discuss details, it is good to keep them updated with how the case is progressing, what is being done by your lawyer, and what, if anything, has changed.

Remind family members that criminal cases take a while to complete, and assure them that the lawyer is doing as much as possible to minimize the impact this will have on you and, by extension, on your family. When family members are kept updated about what is happening, they may not be as stressed about the whole situation.

If you’ve been arrested, you may be worried about how to tell your family members about the arrest. Use the tips here to talk to them about what happened, what is currently happening, and what you expect to happen in the future. This way, the family knows as much as possible about what is going on and can be supportive.


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