Is it illegal to question a 13 year old suspect in regards to a crime?

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2011

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Is it illegal to question a 13 year old suspect in regards to a crime?

Asked on August 19, 2011 Indiana


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You  don't give much by way of details. That having been said, if the minor was not in custody, it is legally permissible for the police to question them without their parent(s) present. This typically happens when an officer has a reasonable belief that a minor has been involved with the commission a crime. In that instance, the officer can detain the minor to conduct an investigation and during this initial detention, police are not required to let a minor call their parents.   

If the minor is in custody (e.g. arrested), they have the right to call their parents and have their parents present during questioning. Custody typically means arrest but if a child is questioned at school it has successfully been argued that this too can constitute custody. Essentially anytime that the minor's Miranda rights are implicated they have a right to have their parents present.

Note: Regardless of age, if anyone that is in custody is not given the Miranda warning then no statements made by them can be used against them later. However, statements used by a suspect can be used against them if: they were made prior to being placed in custody, or if a suspect was read their rights and went ahead and made voluntary statements anyway.


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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