When a minor is arrested, it is very common for them to become nervous and make incriminating statements. Dealing with police officers is not only a skill children do not learn, it may vary from town to town, race to race and per situation. It is important for minors to know what their rights are so that in case they are ever in an unfavorable situation, they know how to respond to ensure the best possible outcome.
The first thing everyone should know is you do have rights. Whether a police officer recites them to you, whether you are a man or woman, whether you are mistreated, you absolutely have rights upon arrest and you should choose, every time, to exercise those rights to their fullest extent.
Often, because officers are aware that many juveniles do not know their rights, children may be taken advantage of in order to produce incriminating evidence. Be aware of this, and be sure to give your children the following advice if they are ever facing arrest.
In order to arrest a minor, an officer must have probable cause to do so, meaning any facts known about the crime must point to the juvenile in some way. It is very unclear in legislation exactly how probable it must be that the minor being arrested committed the crime, but nonetheless, some fact must be present tying the arrestee with the suspected crime.
The Right to Silence
This Fifth Amendment right protects a minor against self-incrimination. He or she will be reminded by the arresting officer that testifying against oneself is optional, and it is always highly recommended that a juvenile remains silent until he or she has consulted with an attorney. It is very easy to be tricked or accidentally make an incriminating statement, so silence is typically the best response in these cases.
The Right to Representation
Also known as the right to counsel, describes a minor’s right to an attorney, whether he or she can afford one. If a private attorney is not feasible, a state attorney will be assigned to the case. Be sure your child knows this right and asserts his or her privilege every time. You will almost always get better results with professional legal advice than without.
Important to note is that a minor will usually be given the privilege of a phone call upon arrest. If you receive that call, be sure to remain calm and act to improve the situation by finding an attorney immediately.
No Right to Bail
Minors do not have the right to seek bail, according to the constitution. However, in most adult cases, the suspect will remain in custody, if bail is not made until his or her proceedings have completed. A juvenile may be released to his or her parent or guardian, or remain in juvenile hall for the remainder of the case.
No Right to a Jury Trial
Juvenile cases are not typically seen by juries unless the case merits that the minor is tried as an adult. It is typical that the court system can be a bit more fair when concerning juvenile cases and returning a minor to his or her “normal” life before too much damage has been done. Of course, this is only the case in less serious crimes.
If you or your child has been arrested and you are seeking legal advice, call San Diego’s Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood today - (619) 867-0755.