A mental or substance use disorder can have a substantial impact on your teen’s overall behavior. Unfortunately, their condition could make them act impulsively and get them in trouble. The law in Washington recognizes that your child’s mental disorder or substance dependency is not a choice, which is why the police have different arrest procedures for them.
The severity of the offense matters
If the arresting officer believes that your teen has a disorder, they may not take them directly to the juvenile detention facility. Your teen must have been arrested for a nonfelony crime that is not a serious offense to avoid the detention facility. The law in Washington considers serious offenses to be:
- Any violent offense
- Any sex offense
- Any offense involving a firearm or weapon
- Any offense listed as harassment
- Any offense related to possession and distribution of some drugs
The court will consider the severity of the offense based on the number of charges, the victims involved and whether the defendant inflicted bodily or emotional harm on another person.
An alternative to the juvenile detention facility
If the authorities did not charge your teen with one of the designated serious offenses, then the arresting officer will take them to a treatment facility or to another location for behavioral health diversion. In the facility, professionals will evaluate your teen within three hours after their arrival to determine if they need treatment. If the professionals think that your teen needs help, they will develop a health intervention plan and initiate treatment. Your teen may be held at the facility for a maximum of 12 hours after the arrest.
An opportunity to get better
An arrest does not necessarily lead to a conviction, and your teen still has hope. A good rehabilitation program can help them get rid of their addiction, and treatment can improve the symptoms of their mental illness. Your teen has their life ahead of them and acting now will improve their quality of life in the future.