According to the American Psychological Association, most juveniles fail to exercise their constitutional rights when being questioned by police officers. Unfortunately, failure to exercise these rights may lead the minors into more trouble. As a parent, you ought to acquaint yourself with the laws governing the interaction between minors and the police. Here are three essential things to note regarding this interaction:
Police Can Question Minors, But…
First, you should know that it is perfectly legal for the police to approach and question your minor children in your absence. Therefore, you can't accuse the officers of questioning your children in your absence. The exception is custodial questioning (questioning minors in police custody), which some states have ruled must take place in the presence of the minors' parents.
Just like adults, however, the minors don't have to answer the officers' question. As an adult, you can decline to answer the questions until your lawyer arrive. Your children, however, can call for you, a lawyer, or both you and the lawyer. When you arrive and find the child being questioned, you can refuse to allow them to answer the police.
School Based Questioning Demands Reading Of Miranda Rights
As an adult, police officers do not have to read you your Miranda rights before questioning you as long as you aren't in custody. For example, if a police officer flags down your car and starts talking to you through the window, they can do so without reading your Miranda rights because you are not in custody and are free to leave. The Miranda right reading is only necessary if the police place you in custody, for example, by ordering you out of the car and handcuffing your wrists.
According to Nolo, the situation is different for police officers questioning children within school boundaries. If a child is being questioned at school, they don't feel that they are free to leave at any time. Therefore, a police officer questioning a child in school must advise the child of their Miranda rights before the questioning begins.
Threshold for Arresting Minors is Low
Both adults and children can be arrested for misdemeanors, but the threshold for arresting children is lower than that for adults. For example, most jurisdictions don't arrest adults on misdemeanor charges unless they commit the criminal acts in the presence of police officers. This is not the case with children, who the police officers can arrest on misdemeanor charges as long as they (the officers) have reasonable cause. This means the authorities must have some evidence to justify why the police think the minor committed the misdemeanor crime.
If your minor calls to inform you that they are being questioned by the police, the best thing to do is to contact a lawyer and let them get there as soon as possible. You should also make it to the place, especially if your minor is in custody, immediately.