How to Deal with Police Questioning as a Minor?
Children could be the perpetrators of crime or they could be witnesses/victims. No matter what the situation, law enforcement professionals in Arizona will have to question minors in an attempt to get a complete picture.
Just like adults, children benefit from constitutional rights and protections when they’re being questioned. As a parent or a guardian, you need to acquaint yourself with these rules to make sure your child isn’t being pushed in an illegitimate way during the investigation.
What’s the Minor’s Involvement?
The way in which the police will interact with a minor depends on their involvement in the case.
Whenever a child is a witness, the police will have the right to speak with them without notifying the parents. Schools, however, are granted the right to notify parents and guardians about the criminal investigation process. Thus, things can get a bit complicated.
Whenever minors are suspected of committing a crime, police officers also have the right to question them. Parental consent isn’t required in cases when the nature of a crime being planned could endanger the public.
For less serious past crimes, minors tend to have more rights. Their Miranda Rights are also protected, just like they are for adults.
Keep in mind that a confession by a minor is considered involuntary in Arizona. To get the confession to stand in court, investigators will have to provide evidence that it has been made in a voluntary manner. If a parent isn’t present during the questioning, proving the voluntary nature of the confession is going to be even more difficult.
Custodial Interrogation Rules
Police officers have to announce that a minor is under arrest, hence they’re not free to leave, before a custodial interrogation takes place.
The lines can get blurred whenever children are involved, however.
In less obvious situations when an arrest isn’t being announced, the question would be whether a reasonable person would consider themselves free to leave. In such instances, the person cannot be considered in custody.
Children are more likely than adults to view police officers as authority figures. Hence, they could do self-incriminatory things or they could consider themselves being under arrest, even if they were completely free to leave.
Just like in the case of an adult, police officers cannot arrest a child and question them without reading their Miranda Rights first. in the case of a procedural violation, the statement made by a minor will not be admissible in court.
Click here to find out can cops question my child about a crime.
When Parents Refuse Permission
As already mentioned, in some instances police officers can question children without asking for parental permission.
In other situations, a parental permission is a prerequisite for the interrogation to occur. As a parent, you have the right to refuse the questioning of your child.
Sometimes, parents refuse an interrogation because witnesses and children who have become crime victims will be traumatized by further questioning. Counsellors and therapists will also advice parents to keep their kids from participating in further procedurals.
In certain cases, however, the police has the right to override the parental refusal. This will happen often in the case of domestic violence.
A refusal to let the child speak in such situations could be seen as suspicious. Arizona police will turn to child protective services if there’s a suspicion you’re not acting to protect your child’s best interest. In the worst-case scenarios, a parent could be charged with obstructing the police investigation.
If you’re not certain how to act when the police officers want to question your child, you should get in touch with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney. A lawyer will give you a better idea of your rights and highlight the best responses.
Click here for information on getting arrested as a repeat offender in Arizona.