Am I doing the right thing or is this just more enabling?


Active Member
My son's charges have become very serious. He has charges for attempted robbery, and now the Commonwealth has brought up charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is not yet a felon, because he hasn't been found guilty of the robbery. If convicted, he could spend 12-20 years in prison. Talked with an attorney with a good reputation who says she can get the charges reduced to 2 years. The cost of all this is $10,000.00. I have already paid $7500 to an attorney who only represented him in General district court. I only have $5000 left in my savings. The attorney will take that as a retainer, & will work out a payment plan for the rest. I can do it, but it will take a lot of long hours of overtime on my part. Sad how him taking a dare to go with a "friend " to rob a drug dealer has cost me so much. I don't know if I should hire the attorney or not. I worry about his future if I don't, but who's to say if he will ever straighten up even if the charges are reduced. Is this just enabling him further? I really don't know what to do.


Well-Known Member
Oh, I wish I knew what to say. Part of me goes for the logical... Save your money... You need it for your future... But the other part of me says... When is enough enough? Will this be the time that turns things around!! Maybe it is because I just finished an appointment with my therapist and we talked about my tendency to lessen the consequences with my 15yo daughter (actually DGD that we adopted). Maybe if I let her suffer now, she will learn sooner... I don't know. But the struggle is real. KSM
Last edited:

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Oh Sherril, I truly feel for you. This is a tough one.
I only have $5000 left in my savings. The attorney will take that as a retainer, & will work out a payment plan for the rest. I can do it, but it will take a lot of long hours of overtime on my part. Sad how him taking a dare to go with a "friend " to rob a drug dealer has cost me so much. I don't know if I should hire the attorney or not. I worry about his future if I don't, but who's to say if he will ever straighten up even if the charges are reduced. Is this just enabling him further? I really don't know what to do.

I thought to myself, do they not have public defenders? What if you paid all of this money (which you don't really have) and the charges were not reduced?

This is a very serious crime, a very serious "dare". Our d cs have a way of minimizing their involvement.

You have a future too, and your savings are important. You are sacrificing a lot.

Your son is young, he may change, he may not.
I have not dealt with this kind of thing, so I can't really give you advice on it.

Do you go to counseling? If you do, it would be good to share and get advice.
Maybe write everything down on paper, pros and cons, and think hard.
If you believe in a higher power, pray.
Review all of your threads, here on CD, it is your history.

I feel for you dear, this is a very tough one. Maybe there is someone here, who has experienced such a thing and can give you solid advice. I am so sorry I cannot offer you more!

Take care (((HUGS)))

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Well Sherril, that is a tough one. I do wish I had a magic answer for you. I am so sorry your son has put you in this situation.

I can offer from my own experience. My son had numerous run ins with the law. In and out of jail and prison. I never paid for an attorney for him. He always had a public defender. When my son first started getting in trouble with the law he always had an excuse that it wasn't his fault, not his idea, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those excuses wore thin after a while. As I said, my husband and I never paid for an attorney however, we paid tens of thousands of dollars on therapy and counselors trying to get our son help, trying to get him to see how his choices and behavior were causing nothing but chaos and trouble in his life and ours. I wish I could say all the money was well spent but it wasn't. I have nothing to show for it. Even after all the money we spent on counselors, we continued to spend more money to try and help him and our savings took a hit. All that money is gone and it did no good.

There was a time a few years ago when my husband had some health issues and had to quit work. We really struggled financially. I truly resented my son and all the money we had spent trying to help him because it did no good and left us strapped.

I am reminded of one of your earlier posts:
Sometimes I really just am so hurt by my son that I don't know where to turn. He called me late last night from the jail. He told me when he gets out he knows he will "just go back to what I was doing before because I'm gong to be a felon and I won't be able to get a job to buy all the things I want." I have offered to pay for him to go to some type of vocational program and assured him if he becomes a good mechanic, or welder... he can still get a job even with a felony. But of course, he tells me he's not interested in going to school. He knows telling me he's "going back to his old ways" upsets me terribly. I ended up in the emergency room this morning with angina. When he wanted to know why I wasn't answering his calls this morning, I told him I was in the ER and he couldn't care less. Told me I "was acting some kind of way" so he would talk to me tomorrow. Just when I dare to hope that he's actually doing better, he always does something to hurt me.

I would be more inclined to say yes, pay the money for the attorney if he was truly showing remorse instead of having a pity party and showing no concern for your health.

My concern is for your health, mental and physical, and your overall well being.

I know how hard this is for you. It's a tough decision to have to make but I hope you will really think it through. There is no guarantee that you paying for a lawyer will cause him to change his behavior. It will however, send a message to him that he can continue to manipulate you and you will continue to bail him out.
Even if he suddenly were to start saying how sorry he is, that he will pay you back, crying, etc....... can you really trust him.

I would hate to see you wipe out your savings. What if something happens and you need that money??
Is it fair to your daughter that still lives at home, you working all that overtime?

There is no right or wrong answer. You have to do what you can live with. Hang in there!!!

There is much truth in this statement.


Active Member
Thank you both so much. There are definitely public defenders here, some are good and some are not. Tanya, I definitely don't trust him. Even though I love him, I don't think he's matured much. And you are so right about past behavior predicting the future. It's sad because I hate to see his whole life ruined. I know it's up to him though. It has to be his decision to change.


Well-Known Member
Hi Sherry,

I honestly don't know what I would do in this situation.

On the one hand, 12-20 years in prison seems so harsh, so scary for an 18yo!

On the other hand, using all your emergency cash, and having to make large payments to a lawyer for a young man who hasn't exhibited any willingness to turn his life around is scary too.

Take a little time to sort this out in your mind.

I just want you to know that you will be supported here, no matter which decision you make.



Well-Known Member
What a tough decision. At one point we paid $12,000 for a lawyer for our daughter. He kept her out of jail but she just contined using drugs and getting in trouble. Now that I'm retired I sure wish I had that money back.
My husband and I were having a similar conversation about when and if our son get's arrested do we hire and pay for a lawyer. We ultimately decided that since he knows his behavior is illegal and knows that there's always that chance he could be arrested.. We decided no. We're not going to let our retirement suffer because he chooses to do drugs. I won't tell you what to do or even offer suggestions. The bottom line is you have to do whatever feels right for you. Whatever you can live with. Do they have public defenders where you live? I don't think any lawyer can absolutely guarantee that they can definitely get charges dropped or lessened and if a hired lawyer could do it, couldn't a public defender do it too?


one day at a time
Sherril, I am so sorry. Here are a few thoughts...

It's sad because I hate to see his whole life ruined.

Last time my son was in jail for a period of time (he got out in June 2014), he was facing four years in prison due to his violating probation (the probation was on two felonies). He had a public defender. He told me later that the night before he went to court (we had long since stopped going to court and paying for lawyers and providing bail so we weren't there and not a part of any of this), the public defender sat him down and said this: You are going to jail for four years tomorrow. Get ready.

My son said he laid awake all night long, terrified. The next day they went into court and not only did he not get four years, they let him go that very day, albeit with lots of fines and more probation.

Since that time, he has steadily progressed in rebuilding his life.

My point is this: We cannot know the journey that they need to take and are going to take. It is **their** journey, their own, individual journey, not our journey.

My son's whole life has not been ruined by his record. I used to think that was the case too, but my son is on a path to becoming a journeyman electrician now and doors are opening. He is making them open, not me.

Sherril, you and I cannot fathom homelessness, drug addiction, jail, prison, buying and selling and taking drugs, all of it. We can't even begin to grasp it.

But that is the path our own precious children have gone down, and okay...then so be it. It is what it is. People do what they do. And then they have to accept the consequences.

I am in no way saying that the above makes your decision for you. It doesn't. It is your decision, and yours only.

We had to stop bailing my son out of jail and paying for lawyers a long long time before this. I think we paid for a lawyer the first two times. (he had 8 or 9 go-arounds). The reason we **had** to stop is not due to financial reasons. We could have paid it. It was due to realizing and believing that bailing him out didn't help him.

Helping didn't help.

What does your "gut" tell you to do? Will you resent paying for this, or can you absolutely **not** not pay for it, in other words, you can't conceive of not trying this to help him?

It is about whatever you are ready to do or not do. You are on your own journey and we can't know what path you need to take either. Maybe the path is to pay for it. Maybe it isn't.

Either way, it's likely not a do or die decision, even though it feels like one.

You have gotten good advice and good thinking from these responses. Please let us know how we can help you further on this, and anything else.

Warm hugs today. This is the hardest stuff in the entire world.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
It's sad because I hate to see his whole life ruined. I know it's up to him though. It has to be his decision to change.
And this is the hardest part. I remember thinking the same thing with my son, so I paid off his student loans so he wouldn't have ruined credit. He only went to classes for 1 month then lied to me about going and how great school was, then the truth came out and I still allowed myself to be sucked in by paying those loans. 2 years of paying those loans and don't get me started on the cell phone bills!!

Sometimes throwing money at a problem does nothing to really solve the problem.

I do know there are many success stories of people who turned their lives around because of going to jail.

One thing you can do and also get others to do is write a letter. The following is from a site I found on the internet.
Google "writing letters to the DA, judges, or probation dept."

If your friend pled guilty to or was convicted of this crime, the best approach would be to contact the Probation Department or the Court Clerk to see if a date has been sent for sentencing. The prosecutor typically has little input in sentencings of misdemeanor cases, but the probation department has quite a bit of input. Since the judge who will sentence your friend does not have time to get to know the facts behind each and every defendant that appears in front of him, he will rely on the probation department to perform a pre-sentence investigative report. This report will not only go into the facts surrounding the crime itself, but may also include results of a substance abuse evaluation if alcohol or drugs were involved, other pyshological evaluations if they were ordered and reference letters submitted by friends and family. The more information the judge has in front of him at sentencing, the better he will be able to hand down a fair/proper sentence.

So, put together your letter. Make sure to reference how long you've known the defendant, the nature of the relationship [family, friend, employer etc] and then include any information you think may be helpful to the court. Mail it to the Probation Department. They will make sure it becomes

This way you are doing something to help him without draining your savings.


Active Member
Thank you all again. I really appreciate the suggestions, and as always it really helps to hear from others who have been through similar situations. No matter what I do, he will do time. The question is how much. I pray every night that he will change and get his life on track, but that's a decision he will have to make. I never thought of writing letters, Tanya, but that's a great suggestion. I will have him contact his Po, too, she has told him in the past she will try to help him.Child of mine, I can't begin to thank you for all your suggestions either. Having those "scripted conversations " with my son has really helped lessen the stress I was under. I really believe " helping isn't helping " my son either.


Well-Known Member
Hi Sherrill,

I agree that nobody can make the decision except you.

I think the thing we struggle with so mightily is this: Who is responsible?

I have only begun to "get it." I am not responsible anymore. My son is. I have no role in it.

It is none of my business whether he "gets it" or not. It is only his business.

After 20 years in prison, your son may have "got it." I hope that this is not put to the test. But whether or not you intervene, to secure 2 years, or 5 years or 15 years will matter not at all. His getting it may or may not have to do with time. It has everything to do with him.

His life is between him and himself. Not you. He is responsible. In all of the ramifications of the word.

Only pay for the attorney if you understand that you are doing so for you, not for him or any specific result.

I am so sorry you have been foisted into this position: with the idea you can have control, that you are responsible, that any of this at all has to do with you. It does not.


Tired Mom

It is a very difficult decision. We paid for a lawyer for our difficult child and made a schedule for him to pay us back which he did. I have thought about what I will do if my son is arrested again. I will not bail my son out again. I struggle with thinking about the attorney part because I suspect that the legal system isn't equal for people who have money for an attorney versus those who don't. I suspect that I would get an attorney just because he did pay me back the first time. Nothing is black and white. There is no wrong answer.


Active Member
It is a very tough decision, and I'm still not sure what to do. I'm going to talk to the attorney again tomorrow. She feels my son Difficult Child is just misguided, chose the wrong ppl to hang out with. He can be very charming, until things don't go his way. It is true Tired Mom, the legal system works more in favor of those who can afford a good attorney. One thing I do know for sure though, is that my son has to be the one to make the decision to change his life. I have no control over that.


Well-Known Member
ahhhh Sherril...... I feel your angst. We never paid for an atty for our son, but his grandmother did. With this top notch attorney, he was sentenced to a state prison for 18 months; he was out in about 6 months.

Before that, our Difficult Child had only public defenders. One was just horrible and later disbarred(!) Another one seemed incredibly good. This was before his grandmother hired an atty.

Through it all, bad/good public attorneys and the one paid for by his grandmother, our son talked the talk, but we knew he was not repentant. He blamed everybody else. Of course, he did want to avoid the time.

Although we were not retired when this all started, husband and I are now. We do not regret not spending money on our son's defense. If he had had a change of heart and convinced us of it, that would be a different story. And, I will add: we wrote letters and I flew up to plead his case with everybody I could think of in the town of his conviction, hoping to change things. I was met with stonewall faces telling me how our son deserved to do serious time. I so did not want to hear that stuff. I am wiser now.

I wanted to do something, knowing that he was guilty, knowing he would most likely not turn his life around. But, i loved him so much, still saw my little boy, and wanted so badly to believe he would do better if given a chance.

While I do not regret it, I learned a lot.

As we are learning, it was on him all along. $$ his grandmother spent did not help at all, that we can tell.


Well-Known Member
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is not yet a felon

This makes no sense to me at all. Are you sure he's not been in trouble before? Not pleaded guilty to something you are not aware of? They can't charge him with this if he's not plead guilty to a felony before.

I hear your pain and I wish I had words of wisdom. I know that, if it were my son, he'd have a public defender. I represented him myself on the shoplifting charge, but only because public defenders don't take municipal cases. Otherwise, I would not have. I also warned him it was a one-shot and I would never do it again. He's been told we wouldn't post bond or pay a lawyer since he was 15.

Public defenders have the same law degree as every other lawyer. They are overworked and underpaid and as a result you may not get as good a result. But there is NO ethical way a lawyer can guarantee a way. I'd be very leery of that too.

Whatever you decide, you have my sympathy and support.


Active Member
I met with the attorney again today and did put down the retainer. Of course there are no guarantees, but she did look over his case and showed me 3 cases very similar to his that she actually got dismissed. Yes, my son has been a LOT of trouble as a juvenile. He was charged with grand larceny, and has been caught with a gun in the past. He took a plea, and was put on probation for 2 years. He violated probation, and was caught with a gun again. If he is convicted this time, he will be a felon and the charges will stick. Don't get me wrong. I'm not condoning anything he has done, nor do I feel he should get away with this. I'm just afraid he will get the maximum of 20 years if I don't hire a decent attorney. Here, many of our public defenders don't defend anyone adequately. They are by far overworked and underpaid. I also made sure my son is aware that this is the last time I'm paying for his defense. Also I warned him that even if he is able to convince a judge to set bond, I'm not bonding him out. He has a long history of absconding, and that's the last thing he needs to do now. I really appreciate all the responses here. I still don't know if I did they right thing.


Well-Known Member
Sherrill, I would have done the same thing. Right or wrong, I would have done it, too.

Like Cedar says, we have to be able to look at our own face in the mirror.

Telling him what you did, too, rings clearly for me.

I am still remembering how he told you that he had run away to San Diego or something and was never coming back. That he was going to live on the lam forever.

He needs to at some point understand in a real way what the consequences are of his choices and his attitudes. After this, if he keeps messing up, he seems to be determined to do so.

I am getting in a very real way that my son's life and my own are completely different. No longer connected as they once were. I have my own life. He has his. I love him as much as ever, but I am not responsible.
Last edited:


Active Member
You're wise, Copa. And I'm doing this for me, too. Like you said, I have to be able to face myself. I know this won't help him change, only he can do that. Praying he gets his life together after all this. But, not certainly not too hopeful that he will.


Well-Known Member
Hi Sherril,

We are hoping for the best outcome.

I hope he will get some mandatory counseling/substance abuse rehab in whatever sentence he might receive. Do you think your lawyer can push for this?