Can a police officer question a minor accused with criminal mischief without having a parent or guardian present?

UPDATED: Jun 11, 2011

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Can a police officer question a minor accused with criminal mischief without having a parent or guardian present?

My sons ages 11 and 14 have been accused with criminal mischief. My boys where there but neither destroyed the property. The other boy involved admitted to doing the damage, but wasn’t written a citation. However my boys did receive a citation and the officer talked ti my boys without my husband and i being present. Now since this happened prosecutors are wanting them to be punished. Was there constitutional rights violated. What are our legal rights? Should we consult with a juvenile law attorney> In Cleburne, AR.

Asked on June 11, 2011 under Criminal Law, Arkansas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The police can question a minor without their parent(s) present as the minor is not in custody.  For example, when an officer reasonably believes that a minor has violated the law. The minor can be detained so the police may conduct an investigation. During such an initial detention, the police are not required to let a minor call their parents.   

However, if the minor is in custody (i.e. arrest), then things change. In such a case, they have the right to call their parents and have their parents present during questioning.  The fact is that anytime that the minor's Miranda rights are implicated they have a right to speak with their parents and have them present.

Note:  If any one (adult or minor)is in custody and not given the Miranda warning no statements made by them can be used later against them.  However, prior to being placed in custody any statements made can be used; or if they were read their rights and made voluntary statements after, those statements may be used.

Whether or not your son's rights were violated you should consult directly with a juvenile law attorney in your area as to how best to handle this situation.


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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