Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If your child is being investigated for a crime in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, he or she should not speak with the police until you contact a qualified juvenile defense attorney.
Here are some common situations in which your child may be questioned by police and the applicable rules.
If Your Child Is Arrested in California
Within one hour of being arrested, your child has the right to make two phone calls: One call to a parent, guardian, employer or other responsible adult and one call to an attorney. If you receive this call from your child, no matter how angry you may be, advise your child to not make any statements to the police.
If your child is arrested or otherwise in custody, the police must advise your child of his or her MirandaMiranda rights. Your child must specifically say that he or she is not going to answer questions or wants an attorney present.
Under California law, police may not be required to inform a child of their right to having a parent present during questioning.
What happens if a child has not requested the presence of a parent for questioning, but a parent is available and wants to be there? Under California law, the police may not be required to inform the child of a parent’s availability unless the child has requested the presence of a parent.
In other words, if a child does not ask for his mom to be present at questioning but mom wants to be there. Depending on the circumstances, the police may not be required to tell the child that you are available.
If, as a parent, you find yourself in this situation, it is important to contact a qualified juvenile attorney immediately. You also need to write down the names of the police officers you’ve spoken to, the times you spoke to them and a summary of the conversation.
Statements to a Probation Officer
If your child is to be detained at juvenile hall, he or she will be interviewed by a probation officer. The probation officer is also required to advise your child of his or her Miranda rights. While statements made to a probation officer cannot be used against your child to prove guilt, they can be used against him or her in other ways that may negatively impact his case. Your child should not discuss the facts of his or her case with a probation officer until first consulting with a qualified juvenile defense attorney.
Police Tactics in Interrogating a Minor
The police are allowed to deceive a child when questioning him or her. They are allowed to imply that there will be some benefit to a child confessing to a crime by telling him or her to “help yourself” by confessing or that it’s “your last chance to tell us your side of the story.” The police are also allowed to tell a child that “the victim has already identified you” as the perpetrator of the crime or that “your friends already told us you did it.”
The police can also tell you “that they’ll talk to the prosecutor to give your case special attention because you told the truth.” DO NOT FALL FOR ANY OF THESE TRICKS. Once again, your child should not make any statements to the police without first consulting a qualified juvenile defense attorney.
If Your Child Has Not Been Arrested
If your child has not been arrested, the police are allowed to question your child without reading the Miranda warning. If your child has not been arrested, your child has no right to have a parent present at questioning.
If your child has not been arrested, the police may pull your child out of class at school to talk to him or stop him on the street. The police may be very friendly and tell your child that they “just want to hear your side of the story.” Once again, your child should NOT talk to the police. Your child should ask if he or she is free to leave, and if the police officer says “yes” then your child should politely excuse him or her self and immediately contact a parent or an attorney. Remember: anything your child says CAN and WILL be used against him or her, even if they are not under arrest or read their Miranda warnings.
This is why it is important that your child not discuss criminal activity with ANYONE until after speaking with an attorney. This means no statements about criminal activity to school teachers, no statements to school administrators, no statements to friends, no statements to ANYONE until after speaking with an attorney.