Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Can You Better Talk To Your Child?

Attorney Katie Walsh
Parenting can be very frustrating at times, and speaking (or having an actual conversation) with your teenager can seem like you are banging your head against a wall! A lot of one word answers.

But what we don’t want to forget is deep down your child does want connect with you: in their own way, in their own time, and on their terms not your terms.

The more connected to their parents, the more comfortable they feel talking to their parents, the more likely your child will stay out of trouble, or come to you if friends are trying to lead them down the wrong path.

We all know the basic rule: Ask Open Ended Questions- don’t ask questions that lead to just a “yes” or “no” answer. But you don’t want the questions to be so broad, “How was school today?” or “What did you do at school today?” that the answer, coming from a tight-lipped teen, ultimately ends up being a “fine,” or “nothing much.” The key is to find the happy medium!
  1. Don’t ask questions like a parole officer. Ask like someone who is genuinely curious. 
  2. Don’t ask random questions purely to ask a question. LISTEN to what your teen is saying in the car rides, on their phone (yes, I am advocating eavesdropping) to friends, what they are laughing at, what they don’t like and BUILD from there. 
  3. 3) Pause. Be a fly on the wall. Just observe your kid for a bit. What songs do they like right now, what TV shows are they watching, what books are they reading, what computer games are they playing: what are they “into” presently- and BUILD from there. 
With help from the Huffington Post, a list helpful hints and questions on how a parent can better converse and understand their child:
  1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?) 
  2. Tell me something that made you laugh today. 
  3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?) 
  4. Where is the coolest place at the school? 
  5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today. (Or something weird that someone said.) 
  6.  If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you? 
  7.  How did you help somebody today? 
  8.  How did somebody help you today? 
  9.  Tell me one thing that you learned today. 
  10.  When were you the happiest today? 
  11.  When were you bored today? 
  12.  If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take? 
  13.  Who would you like to play with at recess that you've never played with before? 
  14.  Tell me something good that happened today. 
  15.  What word did your teacher say most today? 
  16.  What do you think you should do/learn more of at school? 
  17.  What do you think you should do/learn less of at school? 
  18.  Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to? 
  19.  Where do you play the most at recess? 
  20.  Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny? 
  21.  What was your favorite part of lunch? 
  22.  If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do? 
  23.  Is there anyone in your class who needs a time-out? 
  24.  If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?
  25. Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today at school. 
If your child has been involved with the police or charged with a crime, contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh at (714) 619-9355.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

W & I 786: New Sealing of Records Law in 2015

Effective January 1, 2015, California Senate Bill 1038 enacted a new law allowing most minors in Juvenile Court who have satisfactorily completed probation, probation without wardship or informal handling, and who appear before the Juvenile Court after January 1, 2015, for their termination hearing to have their records sealed immediately by the court. No longer do they have to wait until they are 18 or older or, if under 18, five years must have passed since their last arrest or when they were last on probation. Further, they do not have to pay a sealing fee to the court. The newly enacted legislation is found in the California Welfare and Institutions (W & I ) Code section 786.


  1. The exception to the law is for minors, fourteen years of age or older, who had admitted to Welfare and Institution Code section 707(b) offenses. The new law would not apply to them (nor does it apply under the regular Sealing of Records standards). Section 707 (b) lists thirty types of offenses that are covered by this section. In general, it refers to the most serious type of offenses such as murder, arson, robbery, sex offenses where force is found to be true, and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury as a felony. Offenses such as first degree burglary, burglary of a residence, are not a 707(b) offense. If there are any questions whether the minor’s offense is a 707(b) offense, the parent/juvenile should consult with an attorney knowledgeable in juvenile law.
  2. The new law does not apply to juveniles who had their cases terminated for satisfactory completion of probation, probation without wardship, or informal handling prior to January 1, 2015. At this time, those juveniles must comply with Welfare and Institutions section 781. The juvenile must wait until they are 18 or older or, if under 18, five years must have passed since their last arrest or when they were last on probation. Further, under 781, the court required the juvenile to pay a sealing fee. That can be waived if there is proof of inability to pay. 


If a juvenile did admit to a 707(b) offense in Juvenile Court and they were fourteen years of age or older at the time of the offense, there is still some hope to petition to get their record sealed. They could file a petition pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 782 to request of the court to dismiss their case in the interest of justice. If the court does dismiss the 707(b) petition, the juvenile can petition to seal their record pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 781.

We highly recommend all juveniles with juvenile records get their records sealed. Perhaps the police detained your minor and investigated a case concerning your minor but no charges were filed in Juvenile Court. Perhaps the case was handled informally by probation and no charges were filed in Juvenile Court. Your minor still has a juvenile record with the police agency that investigated the case and the local juvenile probation department. Even though they were never charged in court, they need to get their record sealed with all agencies that had any connection with their matter.

The difference in the sealing laws for minors before and after January 1, 2015, could change and the parent/juvenile should check later in the year with a knowledgeable attorney to see if the courts or legislature have corrected the differences. Furthermore, at the end of your child’s probationary period (post 2015), your attorney should request to have the child’s record sealed and destroyed under 781. A knowledgeable Juvenile Attorney will know to do that.

If your child has been charged with a crime, or has juvenile records they need sealed, please contact the Law Office of Katie Walsh at (714) 619-9355.