Most of us hope that all members of our families will become outstanding citizens, positively contributing to society and staying on the right side of the law. However, we all make mistakes, and a close family member may one day make one that sees them charged with a federal crime.

Whether they’re facing drug charges, fraud, tax evasion, or something else, your family will likely begin one of the most stressful phases of their lives. However, by understanding the best actions to take from the beginning, you might navigate the legal system with confidence.

Enlist the Services of a Law Firm

After learning that a family member is facing charges for a federal crime, enlisting the help of Wheeling criminal defense attorneys should be one of your first actions. If you’ve never navigated the legal system before, you may not know what’s involved in legal proceedings, the likely outcome for your loved one, or whether there’ll be significant repercussions for them and your family.

When you hire a criminal defense attorney, the outcomes, repercussions, and courses of action, often all become clear. Attorneys can also answer your questions about what comes next and guide you through the legal process to ensure your family doesn’t have to do it alone.

Keep It in the Family

We all need a support network, so it’s only natural to want to reach out to friends and other family members outside of your immediate circle to tell them what’s going on. You might even post about your experience on social media to keep your loved ones in the loop.

While it may be tempting to share your recent experiences with others, your lawyer might advise against it. The more people who know what’s happening, the more people can be called upon for court proceedings to provide potentially damaging details. Refrain from sharing information with extended family members and friends and posting on social media platforms to avoid potential legal repercussions.

Be Supportive

Your loved one might be facing criminal charges for a mistake they’ve made, but that doesn’t mean you should withdraw your support when they need it the most. As sad, angry, and frustrated as you might be, try your best to be there for the person who needs it the most.

Support looks different for every family. You might offer yours by being a listening ear, the voice of reason, and a shoulder to cry on. Alternatively, you might be the action-taker in the family, making decisions and leading your family through the stressful trials and tribulations of a legal situation. No matter which form of support you offer, try to make it clear that you’re there for the family member facing federal charges and will help them even if you disagree with the choices they’ve made.

Take Time Off Work

Navigating the legal system can be stressful, and the early days of legal proceedings can take up a significant amount of your time. If you’re directly involved with a loved one’s legal troubles, consider taking time off work to give it your complete focus. If you try to balance work and your family members, they or your job won’t always receive your full attention. However, if you’re not in a position to take time off work, delegate tasks and support duties to another family member in your absence.

Make Arrangements for Younger Family Members

The average household can be thrown into chaos when a family member within it has been arrested and is facing federal charges. If you have young children who require your undivided attention, and you aren’t able to provide it during this challenging time, consider making alternative arrangements for them. Sometimes, this can involve one family member within your family being tasked with the sole job of providing care or asking an outside family member to take them into their home temporarily.

Write an Action List

So many things require your attention during a legal case that it’s only natural to become overwhelmed. You can lose track of the most critical tasks, and it’s easy to start making mistakes that might affect the outcome of your family member’s case.

Alongside hiring a criminal defense attorney to guide the way, write an action list in order of the most pressing tasks to the least important. Gathering information, following post-arrest proceedings, contacting the District Attorney’s Office, and attending an arraignment can all be important tasks to put on this list.

Attend Counseling

There can be a great deal of fear, anxiety, and stress associated with the criminal process, especially when it involves a serious crime and a much-loved family member. When you’re busy supporting them, it’s easy to forget about yourself and your own needs.

To be strong for others, you need to be strong for yourself, so seek counseling sessions when you’re having difficulty dealing with your situation. While counselors won’t be able to solve the problem, they’ll be able to teach you new coping mechanisms that might help you feel stronger and more capable of managing what comes next. They’ll also be a listening ear when you don’t have anyone in your family to be one for you.

Make a Plan for Life After Sentencing

Your loved one’s attorney will fight for their right to a fair case outcome, but that won’t always mean they’ll come home immediately. Jail time is the likely outcome of many serious federal crimes, and you’ll need to have a plan for if this happens.

Talk to your chosen attorney about the probability of jail time and a general idea of sentences. You might then be able to make a plan for future legal services, your financial situation if the person going to jail is a breadwinner, and housing arrangements if they’ll be placed in the prison system away from home. There won’t always be ample time to make these arrangements afterward, so don’t underestimate the importance of taking action before an outcome has been decided.

There is no right or wrong way to feel after a loved one has ended up on the wrong side of the law. However, it’s important not to let your emotions get in the way of being able to plan for what comes next. Take some of these actions above, and you might feel strong and confident to navigate the legal system and do what’s best for your family.