Juvenile Criminal Defense: Should You Allow Your Child To Speak To The Police?

July 28, 2023 | By Fulgham Hampton Criminal Defense Attorneys
Juvenile Criminal Defense: Should You Allow Your Child To Speak To The Police?

I am Brandon Fulgham with the Fulgham Law Firm. Welcome to our YouTube channel. A police officer called to speak to your child - what should you do? Should you speak to him or should you not?

By the way, if you wait around until the end of this video, I will give you a free eBook what to do if you have been charged with a crime in Texas. It's a scary thing to think all of a sudden you get a phone call from either a school resource officer or you get a phone call from a police officer calling to say “I need to speak to your child I need to meet up with you because we have reason to believe your daughter or your son has committed a crime.” What do you do? Should you cooperate? Do you go in and speak to the police? Well, this is a question that comes up because listen in today's world, particularly in school environments, schools have become very paranoid about any type of criminal activity to the point they have the tendency to over investigate situations so it's important to know what your rights are in a situation like this if it ever comes up.

What’s The First Thing You Need To Do If You Receive A Call?

The first thing we need to do is identify who the person is that is calling and attempting to speak to your child through you. Who are they and what do they want? Now the first person we are going to talk about is the school resource officer.

Let us say a school resource officer tries to reach out to your child or reach out to you directly. Technically, they should not be speaking to your child. When detectives are dealing with juveniles, they need to be talking to you before they do any type of interview process on this. Be careful about that as well, particularly if the principal or someone else is trying to come and speak to your child in any type of investigation. If the person attempting the interview is a school resource officer, generally speaking, they are not necessarily your friend.

I just want you to understand that anything that is gathered or collected by that school resource officer can be used against your child, even the communication that you, as a parent, might have with that school resource officer could be written down in a report and conveyed in such a way as to make it seem like you've got issues. Sometimes communications between parents and school resource officers are used in CPS investigations and different things like that so you need to be very careful about how you handle the situation. Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to ever let your child have that conversation with the school resource officer. Let us talk about two different issues here because people ask me, but what if my juvenile is innocent?

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What To Do If Your Child Is Innocent?

What if my child did not do anything wrong? What if we know for certain that there was nothing that took place here, but they are still coming after us? Number one, if your child is innocent be careful because, once again, I don't know anything about your school resource officer but there can be some that are genuinely caring and kind and want to get to the bottom of a situation but there can be others that have already made up their mind about what they think happened here so the thing you're doing is you're entrusting a school resource officer to hopefully write down that information and convey it in the right way. Be really careful about that because in doing that if you are innocent, those statements can be twisted to appear to make you look guilty. What if they ask you questions trying to corroborate other witnesses’ points? Even if the witness points do not go directly to the crime itself, sometimes a very resourceful school resource officer can sit down and actually try to ask questions to paint a picture that might make it appear like your child has done something they did not do, so if you are innocent be careful talking to them.

What To Do If Your Child Is Guilty?

What if your juvenile is guilty? That is the other question people say, “but what if my son or daughter committed the crime and it’s pretty clear that they did it.” Even more of a reason not to go speak to the school resource officer. It is even more of a reason because now you go in and you start admitting to certain things to make yourself look better. What they are going to do is they will start asking new surrounding questions and what seems to be a small issue can balloon into a major issue. I can very much guarantee you are going to end up getting follow-up calls from the detective and it could lead to detention at the Juvenile Services. You can end up running into some big problems with a school resource officer. Number one, be very careful talking to them whether you're innocent or guilty, it doesn't matter. Either way, it is very important not to have a conversation with them without an attorney present.

What If A Detective Calls You?

Here is the thing, if a detective calls you, this is a strong indicator that you know this is going full steam ahead as a full criminal investigation. A detective is not going to be calling you to speak to your daughter or your son or to you about this unless they've already gathered some information that they're believing they're moving forward with so this is why this is so very important the detective is going to have to have the parents’ permission in order to have that conversation with their child.

It is important to recognize these issues. You say well we are going to go sit down together and go through all of this with the detective. Well, if you are innocent, be careful. Remember, the detective is trained on how to interrogate people, so it is not going to turn out like you and your daughter or son want it to. You are not going to just sit down and tell your story, which is not the way it is going to go. Instead, it is going to turn out where your son or daughter is being interrogated with information from the officer. What if your child starts to stumble with their words? What does it mean to look guilty? What if the officer looks at your son or daughter and says you look guilty to me, I don't like your answer. Well, sometimes looking guilty seems very similar to being nervous. Sometimes looking guilty is very similar to feeling upset about things and, not just nervous, but to the point where you're looking for help from your parents, right? These are children that we are talking about here - it is really important not to talk to that detective whether you are innocent and especially if you're guilty because everything you and your child says can be used against you in the court of law.

Things that you might be saying innocently could be misinterpreted or misconstrued. Think about this: what if your child’s statements are manipulated and something you have said, or your child has said is now being twisted around to make it look like you are admitting to something? Do not put that kind of trust in the hands of a detective.

Now what is your alternative? You say what am I supposed to do? Well, what if you get an attorney involved? If you hire a criminal attorney, everything your child says can be used as evidence against them and everything you say could potentially be used as evidence against you as well. If you're not careful, here's the thing, everything your attorney says is hearsay and as a result of that it cannot be used against you or your child and so it's important to make sure you have an attorney act as that firewall to provide that separation between you and that detective who may have already made up his mind that your son or daughter has committed a crime.

Sometimes cases can also be preempted by your criminal attorney because at the end of the day the detective just has what they have, and you do not need to help them try to produce anything extra. Many times, a good criminal attorney can get out in front of the investigation. They can be talking to the juvenile services department. They can talk to the probation side of the investigation, as well as the district attorney side and sometimes that evidence may be very weak, or it might not be that serious of a crime that it could be cut off and maybe not move forward.

At The Fulgham law Firm, we have had cases where there's no-file decisions related to juvenile crimes. Listen, I just wanted to go through this with you because this happens all the time for people in schools and it is important to know what your rights are and to protect your children. Thanks for joining us here today. Once again, I am Brandon Fulgham with the Fulgham Law Firm. I promised you a free eBook if you click down through the video what to do if you have been charged with a crime in Texas. Subscribe to our YouTube channel if you enjoyed this video, like the video and I will send you more content just like this. Thanks again.

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