If your child has been involved in a crime, you may wonder whether the police have the right to question him or her without you present. Read on to learn the answer.
Children May Be Questioned, But They Don’t Have to Provide Answers
Just like adults, police have the right to approach children and ask them questions about their involvement in a crime. However, just like adults, children are not legally required to answer any questions that officers ask them in an interrogation.
The child has the right to refuse to answer questions and may ask for a lawyer or parent to be present during the questioning. In addition, a parent or attorney is entitled to disallow the minor to answer the police officer’s questions.
If law enforcement, including street officers and school police officers, start to question a minor and the child asks to contact a parent or have a parent with them, law enforcement must stop asking questions and allow the juvenile to reach out to a parent.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that police officers do not have to contact a minor’s parents or attain permission from a child’s parents in order to approach and question a juvenile about their involvement in a crime.
All Voluntary Statements Provided Can Be Used Against the Child
While children are allowed to be questioned by police, anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law. The reason for this is because the statements provided are considered voluntary rather than coerced.
However, if a child is forced to provide answers or, against his or her will, admits to committing a crime, the statements provided will not be admissible in court. Regardless of age, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no one can be forced or required to provide witness statements against his or herself. This is commonly known as the right against self-incrimination.
If your child has been accused of breaking the law, it is pertinent that you seek immediate legal representation. There are serious lifelong implications for children who are convicted of crimes, which is why it’s so important to take action right away.