Is it legal for a 13 year old to write out a police statement without parents or lawyer present?

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Is it legal for a 13 year old to write out a police statement without parents or lawyer present?

My daughter was recognized as a person on video and was detained. When the police arrived she was asked to write out a statement and we the parents were not present. Is that legal?

Asked on December 29, 2011 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

Russ Pietryga / Pietryga Law Office

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are a couple of issues of importance here.  First, was she actually in custody?  That is, did they place handcuffs are here; place her in the police car; tell her she was not free to go; etc.  Seconde, was she just a witness to something?

If she was in custody, then she was entitled to have her rights given to her and she would have to have waived these rights(Miranda Rights) before they could speak with her.

Most states have statutes that determine the age in which a child can waive these rights.  You are going to have to see what age that is in your state.  (Usually, it is 14 years of age.)

Hope this helps.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your daughter was detained by presumably a store employee regarding a possible impropriety done by her captured on video and law enforcement was then contacted, there was nothing improper about asking her to write out a statement assuming her rights per the Miranda decision were given.

If not and she wrote something incriminating, then possibly her statement that she wrote could be suppressed assuming criminal charges are filed against her. I suggest that you consult with a criminal defense attorney who practices juvenile law about the circumstances that you have written about.


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