Los Angeles Juvenile Defense Attorney

Archive for the ‘Arrest and Detention’ Category

Should My Child Talk To The Police?

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

If your child is being investigated for a crime in Los Angeles or anywhere in Californiahe or she should not speak with the police until you contact a qualified  juvenile defense attorney.

Here are some common situations in which your child may be questioned by police and the applicable rules.


Within one hour of being arrested, your child has the right to make two phone calls:  One call to a parent, guardian, employer or other responsible adult and one call to an attorney.  If you receive this call from your child, no matter how angry you may be, advise your child to not make any statements to the police.

If your child is arrested or otherwise in custody, the police must advise your child of his/her Miranda rights (right to remain silent, warning that all statements will be used against your child, right to an attorney).  However, the police are not required to advise your child of their right to have a parent present during questioning.  Your child should ask police that a parent be present during questioning.  Also, a child asking for a parent is not an invocation of Miranda rights.  Your child must specifically say that he or she is not going to answer questions or wants an attorney present.


What happens if a child has not requested the presence of a parent for questioning, but a parent is available and wants to be there?  Under California law, the police may not be required to inform the child of a parent’s availability unless the child has requested the presence of a parent.

In other words, if a child does not ask for his mom to be present at questioning but mom wants to be there.  Depending on the circumstances, the police may not be required to tell the child that you are available.

If, as a parent, you find yourself in this situation, it is important to contact a qualified juvenile attorney immediately. You also need to write down the names of the police officers you’ve spoken to, the times you spoke to them and a summary of the conversation.


If your child is to be detained at juvenile hall, he or she will be interviewed by a probation officer. The probation officer is also required to advise your child of his or her Miranda rights.  While statements made to a probation officer cannot be used against your child to prove guilt, they can be used against him or her in other ways that may negatively impact his case. Your child should not discuss the facts of his or her case with a probation officer until first consulting with a qualified juvenile defense attorney.

The police are allowed to deceive a child when questioning him or her.  They are allowed to imply that there will be some benefit to a child confessing to a crime by telling him or her to “help yourself” by confessing or that it’s “your last chance to tell us your side of the story.”  The police are also allowed to tell a child that “the victim has already identified you” as the perpetrator of the crime or that “your friends already told us you did it.”

The police can also tell you “that they’ll talk to the prosecutor to give your case special attention because you told the truth.”  DO NOT FALL FOR ANY OF THESE TRICKS. Once again, your child should not make any statements to the police without first consulting a qualified juvenile defense attorney.


If your child has not been arrested, the police are allowed to question your child without reading the Miranda warning. If your child has not been arrested, your child has no right to have a parent present at questioning.

If your child has not been arrested, the police may pull your child out of class at school to talk to him or stop him on the street.  The police may be very friendly and tell your child that they “just want to hear your side of the story.”  Once again, your child should NOT talk to the police.  Your child should ask if he is free to leave, and if the police officer says “yes” then your child should politely excuse himself and immediately contact a parent or an attorney.  Remember anything your child says CAN and WILL be used against him or her, even if they are not under arrest or read their Miranda warnings.

This is why it is important that your child not discuss criminal activity with ANYONE until after speaking with an attorney. This means no statements about criminal activity to school teachers, no statements to school administrators, no statements to friends, no statements to ANYONE until after speaking with an attorney.

School Officials Believe Rosary Beads Are Gang Symbol

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

A guest blogger, Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew Bouvier-Brown, comes to us this week with his take on a bizarre incident in which a Colorado high school student had his rosary beads confiscated by school authorities?  Why?  They believed that the rosary, which contained 13 beads was a “gang symbol.” As Reported in the Daily Mail:

According to the Loveland Reporter Herald schools across the country have been banning the wearing of the beads because they are known to be used by gangs including the Surenos and the Latin Kings to mark membership.

The district’s fears were furthered by the fact that [the student's] string had on it 13 beads – a number associated with the Surenos – rather than the traditional 10.

But is the 13 bead rosary that unusual?  No.

It is, in fact, quite common for a rosary to have “thirteen” beads, depending on how you describe the arrangement of those beads. A typical rosary is divided into “decades,” strings of ten beads, with a single bead dividing each of the decades. There are five decades on a complete rosary. The five decades of beads (plus four dividing beads) form the main portion of the rosary, linked together by a medallion of some sort (typically, but again, styles vary widely.) Hanging down from the medallion will be five more beads: a single bead, a group of three beads, a single bead, and then a cross or crucifix icon.

However, it is not uncommon for a sort of “mini-rosary” to be sold with a string of ten beads. Such items are in wide use and are certainly a part of traditional Catholic prayer rituals. On such items, there are sometimes only one additional bead between the medallion and the crucifix icon, leaving a total of eleven beads. It is also fairly common, however, to see three beads between the medallion and the crucifix– making a total of thirteen beads on the rosary. An example of one such thirteen bead rosary: the last item for sale here (http://www.totallycatholic.com/single.htm). One can see that the last example is a very cheaply made, inexpensive rosary, all plastic; that is a good indicator of the level of wide distribution this style might be expected to receive. They are meant for giving away… perhaps to a group of school kids, for instance.

But this story brings to light a more perplexing and disturbing problem. These school educators can hardly be blamed for their ill-conceived position on this issue, as they are in many ways simply following a well-established trend in law enforcement towards its next logical step. In courtrooms across Los Angeles, across California and all over the western United States today, one will find law enforcement officers styled as “gang experts” who will tell you, under oath and in the face of cross-examination, that what transmutes an ordinary, innocuous symbol into a gang symbol is the person who is wearing it. They’ll also testify that what transmutes a person into a gang member is the fact that he or she is wearing a gang symbol. The circularity ensues:

Q: “How do you know this person is a gang member?”

A: “For one thing, he’s got a gang symbol. A Raider’s helmet.”

Q:  “Are all Raiders helmet tattoos gang symbols?”

A:  “Only when they’re being worn by suspected gang members.”

Now, of course, merely having a tattoo, possessing a certain symbol, carrying an article, or the like cannot by itself make you a gang member. The other pieces of this equation? Association with “known” gang members, and oftentimes, a shared ethnicity with that gang. In short, a young Latino or Latina who grew up in a neighborhood where there are gangs (thus associating him or her with gang members by default; every kid from that neighborhood went to the same school) with a Raiders helmet tattoo has a gang tattoo.

It’s almost to be expected, then, that this insidious, vaguely circular reasoning would extend to other symbols ubiquitous in Latino culture. The rosary is certainly that, which leads one to wonder: What about images of the Virgin of Guadalupe, to whom the rosary prayer is so often dedicated?

La Virgen is certainly an even more common image, whether on an elaborate mural, a beautify tapestry, a cheaply made candle, or a tattoo. Can we consider this deeply cherished, culturally distinctive, powerful spiritual beacon a gang symbol as well? You’ll find Her associated with young Latinos and Latinas everywhere, including that relatively small percentage of the demographic who belong to a criminal street gang.

When this young Latino boy brings a rosary to campus, he’s bringing a gang symbol to school. When and elderly white woman does the same, most assuredly, no one will ever make the same assumption. If this sounds sinister to you, please know: this kind of thinking merely follows the lead set by the so-called gang experts now dictating public policy and determining the outcome of criminal justice proceedings throughout America.