Los Angeles Juvenile Defense Attorney

Posts Tagged ‘defense attorney’

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.

IF YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN ARRESTED IN CALIFORNIA

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.

UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW, POLICE MAY NOT BE REQUIRED TO INFORM THE CHILD OF A RIGHT TO HAVING A PARENT PRESENT DURING QUESTIONING

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.

STATEMENTS TO A PROBATION OFFICER

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.
POLICE TACTICS IN INTERROGATING A MINOR

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

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.

How To Hire A Los Angeles Juvenile Defense Attorney

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

If your child is in trouble in Los Angeles or anywhere in California, and you have begun to interview criminal defense attorneys you are likely left with a dizzying array of facts, predictions, and consequences about your child’s situation.  It is important to hire the lawyer you think will do the best job for your child, but how do you make that assessment?

DO NOT HIRE A LAWYER WHO TRIES TO SCARE YOU

I frequently get calls from parents who have already spoken with one or two other lawyers before calling me.  By the time I talk to them, they’re convinced their child is going to be removed from the home and sent to a Los Angeles County probation camp even when their child has never been in trouble before, does well in school and is facing a relatively minor petty theft or drug offense.  Of course, for more serious offenses and repeat offenders there can be serious consequences.  But no matter what the charges are, listen carefully when interviewing a lawyer.  Is the lawyer just telling you all the horrific consequences for your child or your family and then talking about how he or she is the only one that can save your child, or is the attorney actually giving you specifics about how he or she would approach the case?  Is the attorney able to clearly explain how juvenile court operates and at least give the beginnings of a coherent case strategy?  Is the attorney asking you questions about your child and your family or is the attorney just talking about himself or herself?  Listen carefully and don’t fall for the fear.

DOES THE LAWYER HAVE RECENT JUVENILE DEFENSE EXPERIENCE?

Most criminal lawyers do not handle all that many juvenile cases, and while many of these attorneys are very fine lawyers, they are not always up to date on the latest changes in the law or techniques that can be used to achieve the best results.  It is essential that your child’s lawyer is up to date on all the latest juvenile statutory and case law.  Factors such as your child’s educational history, mental history and physical health can all have an impact on the outcome of the case.  This is much different from adult court.  Your child’s lawyer needs to be aware of how to address these issues.

DOES YOUR LAWYER HAVE A PLAN?

If your child has a good case to take to trial, then by all means it should go to trial.  But if you are going to go to trial, your lawyer better have done some research about the bench officer who will decide your child’s fate.   Remember, there are no juries in juvenile court.  The judge (or bench officer with similar duties to a judge) will decide your child’s guilt or innocence.  If the case is not going to trial, does the lawyer have a solid plan to negotiate a disposition with the prosecutor?  Is the lawyer going to do a thorough review of your child’s background and present all the appropriate information to the DA or the court?  Remember, this is not adult court.  The court wants to feel comfortable that your child is not going to re-offend and is “under control”; your lawyer needs to have a plan to do that.

DOES YOUR CHILD TRUST THE ATTORNEY?

Maybe you think this does not matter, but your child needs to have some rapport with the lawyer.  After all, your child is the client, not you (that’s the law).  Your child is much more likely to be cooperative and helpful if he or she trusts the lawyer and feels like he or she can talk to him.  While you, as the parent, will be an integral part of the process, the lawyer is required to speak with your child without you or anyone else in the room and must not disclose anything your child does not want disclosed.  Some parents do not like this, but this level of trust is important in getting the best result for your child, which is exactly what you want.

Jerod Gunsberg is a criminal defense attorney.  If you want to find out if I practice what I preach, call me for a free consultation at 310-210-0744.