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Children and the Police

Parents, Children and the Police

+++++If you mention to people that teenagers are more deferential to authority than adults, you get some quizzical looks (especially from parents of teenagers). While teens are by nature headstrong and rebellious, study after study show that when a child under 18 and the police interact, the teen is too easily influenced, particularly if they are being questioned about possible criminal conduct.
+++++Kids want to please, and tend to do or say anything to get out of a stressful situation — like a police interrogation. When it comes to learning values and how to behave, children need parents. When it comes to the criminal justice system, they need a lawyer.
+++++There are numerous cases of teenagers confessing to very serious crimes they did not commit. Clearly, this can be disastrous to their defense. Many teens are locked up for a long time based on false confessions.
+++++Politely — but firmly — decline police requests to question your child, and tell them your lawyer will be in touch.

Learn More – The Right to Remain Silent

Children Receive Additional Protection

+++++The prosecution must meet a heavy burden to demonstrate that any accused knowingly and intelligently waived his privilege against self-incrimination. This burden is even heavier when the accused is under 18, because courts recognize that most juveniles do not understand the significance and protective function of their rights, even when they are read the standard Miranda warnings.
+++++Therefore, “special caution” must be exercised when police present juveniles with the option of waiving their Miranda rights in order to ensure that the juvenile defendant has understood his rights and the consequences of waiving them.
+++++That’s the theory. What’s the practice between children and the police?

Legal Protections When Police Question A Child

+++++To ensure juveniles are protected, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has established a procedure the police should follow when they want to interrogate a child:

  • in the case of juveniles who are under 14, no waiver of the right to remain silent can be effective unless a parent or an interested adult was present, understood the Miranda warnings, and had the opportunity to explain the rights to the child
  • juveniles between 14 and 18 must be afforded the opportunity to consult with an interested adult
  • however, even if this opportunity is not given, a waiver of rights made by a child under 18 may be valid if the circumstances demonstrate a high degree of intelligence, experience, knowledge, or sophistication on the part of the juvenile
+++++The cops aren’t there to help you parent. Or to scare your kid straight. Their job is to bring prosecutions. All too often parents encourage their child to speak to the police, unaware of the consequences. Parents think the police will help them teach or discipline the child. There is no appreciation that the right to remain silent also protects the innocent. Parents are then shocked when the child is arrested, faces severe student discipline, or even charged criminally in adult court. The topper – the child’s statements are used against him or her in court.
+++++Children and the police is a toxic mix.

Contact Us

Attorney Jack Cunha | Best Boston Criminal Defense LawyerCunha & Holcomb | Boston Divorce Lawyers | Boston Criminal Defense LawyersAttorney Jack Cunha can help protect your child.
Call 617-523-4300 to schedule a consultation. One of our Boston criminal defense lawyers is a native bilingual speaker in Spanish and English. Another is fluent in French.

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Protect Your Innocence — “Take the 5th”

Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent

+++++The police want to speak with you — or your child — about some incident or issue. They may advise you of the right to remain silent and cannot tell you not to take the 5th. They are also taught to tell you that being open with them can help resolve the problem, or make it better if you are actually charged. Not true.

Learn More – Children & the Police

+++++There is nothing you can tell a cop that could ever help you. Ever. Statements that hurt you will be admitted at trial against you as exceptions to the hearsay rule. But statements that could help you are hearsay and will not be heard by a jury at trial. Remember, exercising your right to remain silent can never be used against you.

Call A Lawyer As Soon as Possible

+++++Politely decline to speak with the officer, and ask if you are free to leave. If so, leave, and call a lawyer. If you are not free to leave, tell the police you have nothing to say and want a lawyer. Why?

“Any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to police under any circumstances.”

Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 59 (1949) (Justice Robert H. Jackson, who also served as the U.S. Attorney General, and chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials).

Consequences of Speaking With the Police

+++++An example. Investigators want to discuss a financial matter with you. Seeing no harm, you tell them truthfully that you considered the transaction, but dropped out after preliminary discussions. You identify some documents which do not have your name on them. What you do not know is that federal crimes are now suspected. Or, after your involvement, the nature of that transaction changed so as to constitute white collar offenses. More importantly, a wrongdoer now seeking to get a lesser sentence by identifying you as being involved in the scheme, had produced those documents trying to tie you to the transaction. Your truthful assertion of innocence will be used against you to show you corroborated what the liar claimed, at least in part.
+++++Another example. There was a shooting, and the police later ask you questions. Again seeing no harm, you tell them truthfully you were driving nearby, heard shots, and fled from fear of being hit by a stray bullet. What you do not know is that a store video several blocks away caught a license plate of a car racing from the scene. The police then got your photo from the RMV, and a witness mistakenly picked you out as the shooter. Your statement of innocence – admitting being “on” the scene, hearing shots and fleeing – will be used at trial as evidence of your guilt.
+++++As the Supreme Court put it,

“one of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions is to protect innocent persons who might otherwise be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.”

Grunewald v. United States, 353 U. S. 391, 421 (1957).
+++++Over 25% of the falsely convicted people who were later exonerated by DNA had made a statement that was used against him at trial.

Do Not Be Coerced

+++++Police prey on people who think if they do not “cooperate,” they will be perceived by others as having something to hide, and therefore they must be guilty. Wrong. What you say and what the authorities hear and report are almost always different in important respects, and invariably damaging.
+++++Do not make the fatal mistake of speaking with law enforcement agents – in a large percentage of cases, people are convicted solely based on what they said to the police. No matter how pressured you feel, judges very very rarely determine later that a statement was not voluntarily given.
+++++This injustice is easily avoided — exercise your right to remain silent.

Contact Us

Attorney Jack Cunha | Best Boston Criminal Defense LawyerCunha & Holcomb | Boston Divorce Lawyers | Boston Criminal Defense LawyersAttorney Jack Cunha can help protect your child.
Call 617-523-4300 to schedule a consultation. One of our Boston criminal defense lawyers is a native bilingual speaker in Spanish and English. Another is fluent in French.

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