Parents naturally worry about their children and want to be there when their kids have a problem. If your child is facing an arrest or even criminal charges, being there for them might be harder than you realize.
Children suspected of committing offenses can be detained and questioned by the police the same as any adult. Law enforcement can question children, but your kids also have rights. Children have largely the same rights as adults being questioned by law enforcement. As such, if your child demands to have a parent present during questioning, the police should comply. If they do not, contact an attorney immediately. If law enforcement does question your child in your absence, call a lawyer and determine what your next step should be. Your child might be released back to your custody or detained in a juvenile detention center. Your attorney can help you get your child back and plan how to defend them in court.
Schedule a free review of your child’s case by calling our Pennsylvania juvenile defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Can Children Be Questioned in Pennsylvania Without Their Parents?
Contrary to what some people believe, children can be questioned by the police without a parent present. Parents sometimes are under the mistaken impression that the police need explicit permission from a parent or the parent’s presence to move forward with questioning. The reality is that children can be detained and questioned by the police, similar to adults.
Police are not required to have parents present during questioning. While the child should be asked about their parents and whether they want a parent present, the police are not obligated to find and bring in a parent.
However, children still have rights under Miranda. If children invoke their rights to have their parents or an attorney present, the police must cease questioning and comply. This is the same way adult suspects can invoke their rights to an attorney. If your child says they do not want or need their parent, the police will continue to question them, and you might not find out until later.
What Rights Do Children Have When Questioned By Law Enforcement in Pennsylvania?
Children have many of the same rights adults have when they are questioned by law enforcement. Questioning that does not occur while in custody is not mandatory. This means that if the police are questioning your child, but the police have not arrested or otherwise detained your child, your child is free to refuse to answer questions and leave.
Unfortunately, children do not always understand this rule. Children, especially very young children, have a difficult time telling authority figures no. As such, it can feel like a major violation if the police question your child without telling or asking you first. Often, children quickly give in to even slight pressure from the police to answer questions.
If questioning happens while a child is in police custody, matters become more complicated. As mentioned, children have many of the same rights as adults when being questioned or interrogated in police custody. If the police have arrested your child and wish to question them about an alleged offense, the police are required to inform your child of their Miranda rights just as they would for an adult suspect.
Once informed of their rights, your child would have the opportunity to invoke their rights. This includes the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any question and the right to have a lawyer or parent present during questioning. Our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys can help your child protect their rights while planning how to handle whatever comes next.
What if My Child is Questioned in My Absence in Pennsylvania
While children have many of the same rights as adults when being questioned by law enforcement, children often do not understand how to invoke their rights and protect themselves.
Often, children placed under arrest end up answering all questions from law enforcement without invoking any rights to remain silent or have a parent or lawyer present. It is not unusual for the police to take advantage of children’s naivete and continue questioning them before parents are informed.
If your child was questioned by law enforcement in your absence, you should call an attorney immediately. Your child might have been released to you by the police or is being held in a juvenile detention facility. An attorney can help you figure out how to get your child released back into your custody.
A lawyer can also help you determine what kind of legal consequences, if any, your child is facing. The juvenile justice system is different from the adult justice system, and many parents are unfamiliar with the legal process and what kind of rights their kids might or might not have. A lawyer with juvenile defense experience can help you.
What if a Child Demands to See Their Parents But the Police in Pennsylvania Refuse?
As discussed earlier, children have rights just like adults when faced with custodial police questioning. They can demand that an attorney and their parent be present during questioning. They can also refuse to answer any questions at all. If your child demanded to see you or a lawyer but the police refused, talk to an attorney right away.
Any information the police obtained from a child in violation of their rights should not be allowed in court. An attorney can help you make sure nothing the child said to the police can be used against them.
On top of that, we should review how your child was questioned. It is not unusual for children to want their parents but for law enforcement to pressure them into answering questions anyway. Children can be easily manipulated, especially by the authorities, and such tactics might not be legal, depending on the situation.
Call Our Pennsylvania Juvenile Defense Lawyers Right Away
Set up a free review of your child’s case by calling our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.