Parents and Children Have Rights

You may have heard of Miranda rights, which protect people who are being questioned by police. Youths have the same Miranda rights as adults. Police officers must tell anyone who is being questioned about these protections.

“YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. ANYTHING YOU SAY CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU IN THE COURT OF LAW. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD AN ATTORNEY, ONE WILL BE PROVIDED FOR YOU. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE RIGHTS I HAVE JUST READ TO YOU? WITH THESE RIGHTS IN MIND, DO YOU WISH TO SPEAK TO ME?”

Your Child Has the Right to Remain Silent

Children have a right to remain silent, just like adults. This means that your child does not have to say anything, no matter what the police say. Tell your child not talk to a police officer or the state’s attorney without a defense lawyer AND a parent or an adult family member present. The state’s attorney is NOT your child’s attorney and is not on your child’s side.

Your child SHOULD tell police how to reach you and give identifying information such as his or her name, address and date of birth.

It is not enough for your child to just keep quiet. Your child should tell police, “I don’t want to talk”. Your child should not say anything more. This does not mean that he or she is guilty or hiding something. Your child will have a chance to tell his or her side of the story later, with the help of a defense lawyer.

If your child talks to ANY police officer, including a youth officer or a school safety officer, anything your child says could be used against him or her in court. What seems like an innocent statement by your child, like telling police where they were or whom they were with, could be used against your child as evidence of guilt.

Your Child Has the Right to a Lawyer

Your child has a right to a defense lawyer. If you or your child cannot afford an attorney then one will be appointed to represent your child in court. Your child should TELL police that he or she wants a lawyer immediately if he or she is arrested or taken into custody. When your child tells police he or she wants a lawyer, it does not mean your child is bad or guilty.

If you can’t pay for a defense lawyer, the court system will give your child a lawyer called a public defender for free. A public defender assigned to a juvenile court case will be familiar with the juvenile justice system and will be on your child’s side. If you decide to hire a private defense lawyer, look for a lawyer who is familiar with the juvenile justice system.

It’s important to know that the defense lawyer is your child’s lawyer, not your lawyer. This means the lawyer must do what your child wishes, even if you do not agree. The lawyer should keep you and your child aware of what is going on in your child’s case

You and your child should cooperate with your child’s lawyer. Tell the lawyer if your child has learning problems, emotional issues, or takes medicine. The more the lawyer knows about your child, the better the lawyer will be able to help your child.

“THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU CAN
DO FOR YOUR CHILD IS TO BE SURE THAT
THEY HAVE AN ATTORNEY REPRESENTING
THEM AT ALL COURT PROCEEDINGS.”

Your Child Has the Right to Talk to a Parent or Guardian

Your child has a right to talk to a parent or adult family member, and to have them present during questioning. Your child should tell police that he or she wants you, and how to reach you. Your child should not say anything more. Police must immediately try to contact a parent or the person legally responsible for a child’s care. You AND your child’s lawyer should be with your child during questioning.

Your Child Has the Right to Know The Charges

Police must tell your child why he or she is being held. Police must explain the charges and what crime they believe your child has committed (5).

Parents and Guardians Have Legal Rights Too

As a parent or guardian, you too have legal rights as it pertains to your child being held in police custody. Please note, that once your child turns 18 years of age these legal rights may not apply anymore due to your child being of legal age (an adult) in the State of California.

You Must Be Notified If Your Child Is Arrested or Held By The Police

Police must tell you as quickly as possible if your child is arrested or is held as a suspect or a witness. This is why it is important for your child to tell police his or her name and how to contact you. If you learn that your child is in police custody, you should go to your child right away.

You Have the Right to Know Why Your Child Is In Police Custody and Where Your Child Is Being Held

Police must tell you about the charges against your child, and what crime they believe your child has committed. Police also must tell you where your child is held in police custody.

You Have the Right to a Lawyer for Your Child

You have a right to a lawyer for your child, even if you can’t pay for one. The court system will give your child a lawyer for free. Police must stop questioning your child as soon as he or she asks for a lawyer. You and your child should remain silent until the lawyer arrives. Asking for a lawyer does not mean that your child is guilty or that you are being difficult.

“REMEMBER, YOUR CHILD MAY REQUEST AN ATTORNEY AT ANY TIME DURING HIS INVOLVEMENT
WITH THE COURT—IF YOUR CHILD DOES NOT HAVE AN ATTORNEY AND DECIDES HE WANTS ONE,
MAKE IT KNOWN TO THE COURT IMMEDIATELY.”

You Should Be Allowed to See Your Child, and Be With Your Child During All Questioning

Tell police that you want to see your child right away. Stay with your child to be sure that your child’s rights are protected, and make sure your child tells police that he or she wants a lawyer. STAY CALM. Don’t yell or become upset. If you are under control, you can better help your child.

DO NOT allow your child to answer questions from police or the state’s attorney. Your child should not make or sign any statement unless you both speak with your child’s lawyer, and your child’s lawyer is present. Refusing to talk does not mean your child is guilty.

DO NOT discuss what happened with your child. Police can record conversations in the police station, and they can keep recording even if they leave the room. You and your child should remain silent until your child’s lawyer arrives. Police are not allowed to record any conversations that your child has with or in front of the lawyer.

DO NOT tell your child to tell police what happened, even if your child is innocent of any crime. Anything your child says to police or the state’s attorney could be used against your child, or as an admission of guilt. Even simple information, like where your child was on a certain date or whom he or she was with, could hurt your child later.

If police keep questioning your child after he or she has asked for a lawyer, remind your child not to answer a single question. Stay with your child and keep asking for a lawyer. You also can ask for a supervisor, or ask if your child can leave. You can create a record by writing down the officers’ names and badge numbers. Make extra copies of these notes. Give one copy to your child’s lawyer, and keep other copies in a safe place (5).