At what age can a child be interviewed as a suspect by the police without the parent/guardian present?

UPDATED: Dec 6, 2013

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At what age can a child be interviewed as a suspect by the police without the parent/guardian present?

Asked on December 6, 2013 under Criminal Law, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The answer to your question is stated below as to a minor whi has been stopped by law enforcement:


If questioned by the police your child...

  • May be given a warning under the Young Offenders Act 1997.

  • Does not have to answer any questions, make a statement or sign a document - except if they are driving a car, under 18 and drinking alcohol in a public place, suspected of being involved in or witnessing a serious crime, on public transport or involved in a car accident.

  • Does not have to go to a police station unless they are arrested.

  • May be searched, but not strip searched, if the police suspect they have drugs, stolen goods or a weapon.

  • For more information on your child's legal rights contact Legal Aid on 1800 10 18 10.


If the police arrest your child...

  • They will take your child to the police station.

  • They will attempt to contact you before interviewing your child.

  • A parent or guardian should be present for questioning. If not, a parent or guardian can give permission for another person to attend. When your child is 14 or over, they may choose an adult to attend the interview, including a lawyer.

  • Your child does not have to make a statement or sign a document, even when you are there. If they do, it may be used as evidence in court.

  • The police should always let your child speak to a lawyer (on the Legal Aid hotline) before formally interviewing your child.

  • If your child admits to the offence after receiving legal advice the police may deal with your child by way of caution or referral to a youth justice conference. If this happens your child should be provided with written information on what happens next.

  • If police decide to send your child to court they will issue them with a court attendance notice (CAN), or they could charge your child.


If your child is charged...

  • And is over 14 years of age, the police may take photographs and fingerprints which will be destroyed if the court dismisses the charge.

  • The police will then decide if they allow bail until the child appears at court.


If you or your child needs legal advice...

  • contact The Children's Legal Service Hotline (open seven days a week) on 1800 10 18 10.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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