When it comes to questioning children, police have to follow many of the same guidelines they do when questioning adults. Whether your child is considered the victim, witness, or perpetrator, he or she has rights and they must be respected by police. If your child is facing questioning, here is what you need to know.
Can Your Child Be Forced to Answer?
The same Miranda rights that protects adults also apply to children. Your child has the right to refuse to answer questions from police and request an attorney. Your child also has the right to ask that you or the other parent are present during the questioning.
If the police tries to force your child to answer, any information that is obtained from the questioning can possibly be deemed inadmissible by the courts. The information your child provides could not be used to prosecute him or her. However, it is important to note that the police can use the information your child provides to find other evidence and this could be used against your child.
For instance, if your child implicates another person in a crime, the police will interrogate the other person. If that person is properly interrogated and names your child as a culprit, the new testimony from this person could be used against your child.
Are Police Required to Seek Parental Approval?
Contrary to popular belief, police are not required to ask for parental approval to talk to a child. The police can ask your child questions and if he or she willing agrees to answer, the information can be used. The statements are considered to be voluntary. However, once the child asks for a parent or attorney, the questioning must stop.
What If Your Child Is Improperly Questioned?
In the event that the police does improperly question your child after he or she has asked for an attorney or parent, you can take legal action against the police department. Not only can your attorney request that your child's statements be inadmissible, but you can file a formal complaint against the police officers involved.
If your child endured a particularly stressful situation while being questioned, you can even file a lawsuit against the police department.
To protect your child's rights, it is important that you consult with a criminal law attorney as soon as it is evident that an interrogation is possible. You want to ensure that your child knows his or her rights and is prepared to handle the experience.