If your child has been arrested or is involved in a law enforcement investigation, you likely want to be involved every step of the way. After all, it's hard enough for adults to understand their rights and advocate for themselves while dealing with law enforcement. This pressure is magnified for minors who very likely do not understand the magnitude of what is happening. If your child has been arrested and/or is facing criminal charges, it's paramount that you work with a qualified juvenile defense attorney who understands the complexities of the juvenile delinquency system.
What Your Child Should Know if They Are Arrested
Like adults, minors who are arrested are afforded certain enumerable rights under the United States and Pennsylvania constitutions. Some of these rights include:
- The right to receive Miranda Warnings and remain silent;
- The right to make a phone call;
- The right to an attorney; and
- The right to speak with their attorney
Throughout the process, Pennsylvania Policy also requires that juvenile offenders are dealt with in the least “coercive” manner possible, even in situations where they “confess” to committing a particular crime.
If a minor is arrested and taken into custody without a warrant, officers must immediately notify the minor's parent/guardian of the arrest, the reasons for the arrest, and where the minor is currently held. At this point, law enforcement can either release the minor to their parents/guardians on the guardian's promise to ensure the minor returns for a detention hearing, deliver the minor to a detention facility designated by the court, or deliver the minor to a medical facility in instances where they require immediate medical attention. It's important to note that while parents and guardians have the right to be notified of how law enforcement chooses to proceed, the decision is ultimately left up to law enforcement and the juvenile court system.
Parental Rights Throughout Interrogations
Prior to questioning a minor, law enforcement must seek parental/guardian permission prior to commencing the interview. Officers must also carefully explain that whether parents will be present during the interview is ultimately the “prerogative” of the parent and juvenile, not the questioning officers. Throughout this entire process, Pennsylvania policy focuses on proper consent. In fact, even if the juvenile is willing to be interrogated, but the parents object, Pennsylvania State Police must not conduct the interview. Police must also stop the interview if, at any point in time, either the parent or the minor indicates that they are done answering questions.
If the parents and juvenile opt not to include parents in the interview, law enforcement must ensure that they notify parents about the “results” of the interview. In instances where the parent or guardian is a suspected adversary or accomplice, however, law enforcement officers are not required to disclose what was discussed during the minor's interview.
Finally, throughout the entire process, law enforcement must be sensitive to the age and emotional well-being of the minor and must conduct their interrogation with “dignity, sensitivity, and in a non-threatening atmosphere.” If your child has been arrested, held, or interrogated, and you suspect that your child's legal rights have not been upheld, you should speak with a qualified juvenile defense attorney immediately.
Work with an Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges can be one of the most terrifying and difficult experiences you and your child will face. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Criminal Defense Team are compassionate, skilled, and have extensive experience successfully defending juveniles in the Pennsylvania Delinquency System. Don't wait. Speak with us today by calling (888) 535-3686 or tell us about your child's case online.