Yes, the police can speak to, question and even detain a minor without contacting their parent or guardian in Florida. Under Florida law, a police officer can approach and speak to minors while they are in school, out in public or at home alone, and the police can proceed with questioning the child about a crime they were involved in, an incident they witnessed or a crime that they were the victim of without obtaining permission or consent from the minor’s parent.
One major difference between an adult and a minor being questioned by the police is the ability of the minor’s parents to prevent the interview. Generally, if the police are questioning an adult then no other adult can prevent the questioning. For example, if Joe, a 19-year-old college student, is with his mother when he is approached by the police for questioning about a grand theft auto, then his mother cannot prevent the police from questioning Joe because Joe is an adult. However, if Michael, a 14-year-old high school student, is with his mom and the police approach him to question him about a bag of marijuana that was found in his car, then his mom can stop the police from questioning Michael because Michael is a minor. The police would also be required to stop their questioning if a lawyer hired by Michael’s mother refused an interview on Michael’s behalf. Minors in Florida are awarded that extra protection, but law enforcement will oftentimes approach the minor for questioning when no parents are around to prevent a parent or lawyer from stopping the interview.
For that reason, it’s important that your child knows that they can always refuse to be questioned. Whether your child is questioned by a neighborhood patrol officer, the school resource officer or a seasoned detective, they always have the right to refuse to answer questions. They can also ask to contact you or an attorney before answering any questions. Even if your child is not the subject of a criminal investigation, your child should contact you because you need to be aware of what law enforcement is questioning your child about. You also need to determine whether you want your minor child to be a part of the criminal investigation. Unfortunately, a minor’s involvement in a criminal case can have negative, traumatic effects on a minor, even if they are just a witness, so being aware of what the police are talking to your child about is extremely important. Depending on the situation, speaking to the police may not be worth it, even if there are no legal implications.
If the police come to your house to question your minor child then you should always contact a lawyer before allowing the police to begin their interrogation. Law enforcement is allowed to lie to you and mislead you and your child, so even if you think you have an idea of why the police are asking your child questions you may be wrong. In fact, law enforcement officers rarely provide all details of their investigations when questioning suspects and witnesses as an investigative tactic, so contacting a lawyer is always in your best interest.
If an officer questions your minor child and your child tells you they did not want to speak to the officer, then your child’s constitutional rights may have been violated. Regardless of the situation, you need an experienced attorney to file pleadings with the appropriate court attacking the admissibility of your child’s statement or seeking the suppression of any evidence found as a result of their statement. There are many more benefits to hiring an attorney if you feel your child’s rights have been violated, and it’s important for you to choose the right attorney. Matthew Williams and the Law Office of Matthew Williams focus primarily on criminal defense matters in North Florida, and he’s been handling juvenile delinquency cases his entire career. Attorney Williams treats his clients like family because he knows what they are dealing with is always more than just a case, and he refuses to let law enforcement, state attorneys, or the criminal justice system stand in the way of getting his juvenile clients the justice they deserve. He obtains the best results for his clients and he’ll do the same for your child. Give the Law Office of Matthew Williams a call now.