Hiring a Criminal-Defense Attorney for Your Teen with Autism

There is a frightening rise in violence from and against teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorders. Even when the police recognize the autism in teens, their caregivers are at serious risk. (Just look at the African-American caregiver who was shot in the street for attempting to help his patient, who had autism). Therefore, if you find that your autistic teen has been accused of a crime, you will need to hire a very good criminal-defense attorney. Here is what you should expect and what should happen with regard to your child.

Medical Records 

The attorney will need to see all of your teen's medical records that document your teen's diagnosis of autism. These are vital in determining whether a competency hearing is necessary. In most cases where a child or young adult is accused of a crime and has an official diagnosis of autism, a competency hearing may be requested anyway, but your teen's medical records will help you build a defense case.

A Competency Hearing

One of the biggest challenges for a lot of people with autism is "reading" people. Most children, teens, and adults with autism are unable to read facial expressions and body language because they never look directly at other people. Particularly unsavory characters take advantage of kids and adults on the spectrum because they know that those on the spectrum will likely not be able to tell right from wrong or understand that they are being manipulated. For that reason, a competency hearing is necessary to determine whether your teen is able to make these discernments or if he or she is easily manipulated. The ability to speak, vocalize, and understand are also tested, since these play a major role in determining whether your teen should stand trial at all.


Another major aspect of placing criminal responsibility on a teen with autism is that many times kids on the spectrum are charged with a crime, but the school or organization is not allowed to reveal that the kids have autism. Then you get children in the criminal system who should not be there because of their special-needs situation. Even if your lawyer has to follow through on the trial, there is a high probability that the trial will be over quickly because of the fact that most jurors will not convict someone with a neurological, cognitive, or developmental disorder. Just be sure to hire a lawyer who fully comprehends what autism is and can effectively argue about its many issues.

Talk to a firm such as Jeffrey D. Larson, Attorney at Law for more information.