We like to think that our children will avoid trouble with the law not just in their younger years, but well into their adult one’s as well. Unfortunately, a lot of parents have to deal with the reality that their kid staying out of trouble just isn’t going to happen. However, if you receive a call that your child is at a police station, and you arrive only to find out that questioning your child is well under way, is it illegal to question a child without their parent present?
The answer, as always, is a little complex, but for the most part, they can question children without a parent present in the room. Interviewing a juvenile suspect doesn’t differ much from questioning an adult suspect. When a juvenile is arrested, the police are expected to make a reasonable effort to contact their guardians. Of course, this reasonable effort could be making a phone call and not leaving a message if the parent doesn’t pick up.
While effort is being made to contact the parent, police can question the child. However, just because they are a juvenile doesn’t mean they don’t have the same basic rights as adults. The child will be read their Miranda rights and a judge will also take into consideration whether the child actually understood them at the time. If at any time during the interrogation the child asks for a parent or a lawyer, the police are required to stop their interrogation until that condition can be met.
Often a common tactic that police use to question a child efficiently is to tell them they actually won’t contact their parents. Juveniles that are arrested even for petty crimes are likely terrified of punishment by their parents rather than punishment by the law. So even while a police officer may be trying to contact their parents at that very moment, they could get the confession they need by telling the teen that if they talk, they’re parents won’t be informed. This can be devastating to a juvenile case because they could have already supplied a solid confession by the time their parent even knows they were arrested.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A PARENT
If you have been informed that your child has been arrested, though often they will simply say they are at the police station for questioning, a parent should inform the officer that contacted them to stop questioning until they arrive. This functions in a similar way to the child asking for an adult. After the call, the parent should contact their lawyer to meet them at the station as well since a parent cannot represent their child in the criminal justice system.
Often one of the bigger pieces of a juvenile case is not so much proving if they did or did not do the crime, but rather that the arrest, interrogation, and confession was invalid. If one of those three factors can be unraveled, then often the case will be dropped. One of the most effective strategies in juvenile cases is being able to prove that they did not sufficiently understand their right to remain silent or were otherwise coerced by an officer to give a confession. By contacting a skilled criminal defense lawyer, it is likely they can get the case dropped or otherwise reduce the punishment.
If your child has been arrested in Minnesota and you don’t know what to do, contact us today. Juvenile crimes can be very serious and scary for everyone involved. Let the Speas Law Firm come to your defense to make sure your child doesn’t have to suffer under the weight of the law.