Can a 16 year old be questioned without an adult present?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a 16 year old be questioned without an adult present?

My nephew was questioned without his guardian present and being held at juvenile detention are they allowed to do that The one time that I was present at the initial questioning they had already start without me and when I asked for a Lawyer I was told I don’t need one I feel I was denied access to legal help for my nephew

Asked on January 9, 2017 under Criminal Law, Arizona


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The police can legally question a minor without a parent or guardian present if the minor is not in custody. Typically, this occurs when an officer has a reasonable belief that the minor has violated the law. In such case, the officer can detain the minor in order to conduct an investigation during which time the police are not required to let the minor call their parents. However, if the minor is in custody, then they do have have the right to call their parents'guardian and have their them present during any questioning. As a general rule, custody means arrest. And if a child is questioned at school it has successfully been argued that this constitutes "custody". So being in a juvenile detention center would seem to count. This means that in such a situation, since the minor's Miranda rights were implicated, they had a right to speak with their parents/guardian and have them present. At this point, you should consult with a criminal law attorney who can best advise you further.

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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