Juvenile interrogation: Are parents required to be present?
When a juvenile is a suspect in a crime in California, parents and legal guardians may wonder if the police can question their child without their presence. The laws around juvenile interrogations are complex, and it is essential to understand the rights and protections that juveniles have during these procedures.
Learn more about the laws governing police interrogations of juveniles in California and the rights that juveniles have.
California laws on juvenile interrogations
The law in California requires that parents or legal guardians be present during police questioning of juveniles under 16 years old, with some exceptions. Police can interrogate a juvenile without a parent present if the juvenile is a suspect in a serious crime, such as murder or sexual assault. Additionally, if the juvenile has legal independence from their parents, known as emancipation, law enforcement can question them without a parent present. If the juvenile waives their right to have a parent present, police can also interrogate them without one.
Juvenile rights during interrogation
As with anyone else, young people have the right to make a phone call to contact a parent or other person who can help them. Irrespective of whether a parent is present during a police interrogation, juveniles also have their Fifth Amendment rights, including the right to remain silent. It is essential for parents to make their children aware of these rights, and for police to inform juveniles of their rights before any questioning begins. If a juvenile decides to remain silent, police must stop questioning them.
Regardless of parental presence, juveniles should be aware of their rights during an investigation. Parents can help protect their children and ensure a fair process.