Cases of police questioning a child without a parent present often make headlines as this questioning can provide crucial pieces of information that have implicated children in crimes. Unfortunately, the naive nature of many children means that self-incrimination, when questioned without a parent or lawyer, is common in juveniles. However, depending on the specifics of the interrogation, the police may not have violated any laws by questioning your child without your knowledge.
In other situations, parents must be informed, and a child has specific rights that must be adhered to for any evidence gathered during their questioning to stand up in a criminal investigation.
Regardless of how your child was questioned, likely, they will need legal counsel to protect them from further investigation and potential criminal charges.
If law enforcement has violated your child’s rights in any way through their interrogation, The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC attorneys will uncover this wrongdoing and aim to leverage the violation to secure a suppression of evidence. If no rights violations occurred, our experienced criminal defense attorneys will aggressively defend your child to reduce the chances of them facing a conviction and the associated penalties.
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we understand how unnerving it can be for a parent to find out that your child has been questioned by police without you knowing or being there to support them. Even more concerning, is the thought that your child may be facing criminal charges. Our skilled defense attorneys sympathize with parents in this situation, and we will work tirelessly to protect your child’s future.
The impact of one mistake and police questioning without legal advice can have a severe effect on your child’s life and reputation. With The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC’s representation, you can rest assured that our attorneys will go above and beyond and utilize every strategy possible to safeguard your child and their future. If your child has already been questioned, time is of the essence. Contact our skilled Texas criminal defense lawyers today at 832-843-1691.
Texas Law On Questioning A Child
Texas law classifies all children aged 10 – 16 as juveniles, and these children are managed by the juvenile justice system. Many believe that police officers cannot question a juvenile without parental consent. However, this is inaccurate. In some circumstances, a parent must be informed of the questioning, but parental permission is not required. If a child is taken into custody, a parent must be informed as soon as reasonably possible.
However, police can question a child about their knowledge of or involvement in a crime outside of a custodial setting without a parent’s knowledge. If your child is questioned at school or in a public place, there is no obligation for law enforcement to inform you. In some circumstances, a parent may not find out their child has been questioned until they are arrested.
Where Can My Child Be Questioned Without My Knowledge?
A fact that is somewhat unnerving to parents is that children can be legally questioned by the police in a wide range of places. A police officer can approach a child at the school gates, while walking home, at a park, or even at home and ask them questions about a potential crime.
Voluntary, non-custodial questioning also has no requirement for law enforcement to read the child their Miranda rights. Some children may not know or understand that they have the right to refuse to answer questions and seek legal counsel, which can lead to self-incrimination.
However, the police must inform the parents if a child is taken into a custodial setting for questioning.
What Constitutes A Custodial Setting?
A custodial setting, where police officers must follow additional procedures to question a child include any of the following:
- If the child is in handcuffs
- If the child has been detained
- If the child has been taken to a police station or police custody suite
Questioning A Child In Police Custody
If your child is in custody, they will be taken to a juvenile processing office, which is usually a room in a police department that is specifically for minors.
Questioning a juvenile in a custodial setting carries additional requirements for the child’s statement to be admissible as evidence. If a child has been taken into custody, law enforcement must inform the child’s parents of the arrest and the justification for taking the child into custody in a reasonable time. If a parent is not notified within a reasonable time, an attorney may be able to have the child’s statements from the questioning suppressed by the court.
Juvenile Miranda Rights
In addition to informing the parents if a child is in custody, law enforcement must also inform the Attorney General and advise the juvenile of their Miranda rights. The child’s rights must be provided in a language they can understand. Once the child is read their rights, they must be taken in front of a Judge within 24 hours of the arrest. The Judge will evaluate whether they believe the child has understood the Miranda warnings and, if satisfied, permit the police to continue questioning.
Custodial Questioning Without A Parent Present
Once in custody, your child is legally entitled to speak with a parent, guardian, or attorney for a reasonable amount of time.
However, a police officer can undertake a custodial interrogation of a child without the parents present, provided that they are informed. It is not a legal requirement for a parent to be present when police interrogate a minor in a custodial setting. However, if a parent requests to be in the room during custody questions, it is usually in the officer’s best interests to allow it. Denial of parental presence may raise challenges in court.
Can A Child Refuse To Answer Questions?
Yes. Children have the same fifth amendment constitutional rights as adults. The fifth amendment gives any individual the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions or provide a statement that could be used against them in criminal proceedings. If a child says to the officer that they want a parent or lawyer present and refuses to answer any further questions, the officer must end the questioning and allow them to contact their parents.
Voluntary statements in response to an officer’s questions can be used against a child in a criminal matter if they do not invoke their right to remain silent.
If The Police Have Questioned Your Child, We Can Help
If the police question your child, the likelihood is that they suspect them to be related to a potential crime in some way. They may have already charged your child or are conducting further investigation. Regardless, securing legal representation as soon as possible is essential.
At The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we will diligently review the circumstances of your child’s questioning to examine any potential procedural errors or violations of rights that could support the dismissal of evidence.
If your child was questioned outside of a custodial setting, without a parent or legal representation, and without being read their rights, they may have volunteered more information than they should and may have incriminated themselves in a potential crime.
Our skilled criminal defense lawyers are experienced in juvenile law and the complexities of questioning a child. We will use this knowledge and experience to build the strongest possible strategy to defend your child against potential charges and secure the best outcome possible in their case.
Contact The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC As Soon As Possible
At the Love DuCote Law Firm LLC, we pride ourselves on developing a successful attorney-client relationship in every case we work on. In cases involving juveniles, who are often scared and unaware of legal processes, this trust is even more essential.
As a parent, you can rest assured that The Love DuCote Law Firm LLC attorneys will utilize their extensive experience to try to ensure one mistake doesn’t change the outcome of your child’s life permanently. Contact us today at 832-843-1691 to discuss how we can help you and your family.