Los Angeles Juvenile Defense Attorney

Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Juvenile 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.

California Gov. Signs Law That Would Allow Juveniles Who Received Life Sentences to Receive A Shorter Sentence

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that would give juveniles who received life sentences a chance to petition a judge to reduce their sentences.

There are approximately 300 inmates in California who received life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles.  Most of these involve murder convictions for acts that took place when the juvenile was 16 or 17 years old.

Under the new law, which was referred to as SB9 as it wound its way through the legislative process, these inmates may petition a judge to reconsider sentence if they meet certain conditions.  Most importantly, the inmate must serve at least 15 years in prison before they have the right to petition the court for a reduced sentence.  If a judge finds sufficient evidence of remorse and rehabilitation, the judge has the authority to reduce the sentence to 25 years to life.  That would provide an opportunity for the inmate to be released from prison at some point in the future.

As a parent, I am sympathetic to the families of the victims of the crimes that resulted in the life sentence.  Some of these families opposed this bill on the grounds that they were promised that the kids who murdered their loved ones would never be released from prison.  I can see why such families might see this new law as unfair.

As a criminal defense lawyer who represents juveniles in Los Angeles, I know that the brain of a juvenile is different than that of an adult.  Juveniles have less impulse control.  That does not of course justify committing crimes, let alone murder.  It does, however, suggest that putting away juveniles for life is a bad idea unless you include some mechanism that allows for judicial review of the sentence.  Given what we now know about juvenile brain development, we should not be promising victims’ families that the 16 or 17 year old who was convicted will never leave prison.

SB9 is a good and modest step towards making sure that we align our juvenile justice system with what we are increasingly learning about juveniles and how they are different from adults.  Governor Brown was right to sign SB9 into law.