Preserve Your Rights, Don’t Talk to the Police
When a person is being falsely accused of committing a criminal offense, it is a natural feeling to want to explain to the authorities your side of the story. With juveniles this rings especially true. Children are taught the police are there to protect us and someone you should turn to if in danger. Therefore, when a child is accused of something he or she did not do, it is only natural to want to explain what really happened to the authorities. However, when being accused of committing a crime, all the old rules go out the window. If your child is being accused of a crime, the most important thing that you can do to protect them is make sure that they do not speak with the police.
Police interviews of juveniles is very similar to their interrogation of adults. When the police interview a criminal defendant, they follow what is known as the Reid Method of interrogation. The police interrogator will follow nine specific steps when interviewing someone suspected of a crime. The steps are designed to confront the accused and give them little alternative other than offering a confession. The interrogation is not designed to learn the truth; rather it is designed to get a confession from the accused. A juvenile faces very serious risks when placed in the high pressure situation of a police interrogation.
When the police interview a juvenile they have a specific agenda. The intent of the police detective is to have the juvenile make statements that can be used against them when the case goes to trial. The police will use high stress tactics and convince the child that the only way they can make the situation better is by telling the police what they want to hear, regardless if it is true or not. If the juvenile does talk to the police their case will be hurt in numerous ways.
All police interviews are recorded and may be shown to the jury during trial. The juvenile being interviewed is not only evaluated on what is said, but also judged based on their body language and other nonverbal cues. A juvenile can be completely honest in the interview but the jury may interpret the child’s body language of being evidence of guilt. A child simply failing to make eye contact may be interpreted as a sign of dishonesty by a jury.
In addition to harmful non-verbal cues, a police interview raises the risk of your child making statements thinking they will help , but instead could be damaging at a trial. If the police are unable to obtain a confession during an interrogation, a secondary goal is to gather evidence to use against your child. The juvenile may make statements, while on its own are innocent, but subsequently comprise a part of the State’s case against them. Prosecutors are highly trained at taking otherwise innocent juvenile statements and turning them into evidence which assists the State.
The most damaging part of a juvenile interrogation is not what the child says, but rather statements made by the police. The recorded interview will generally be admissible at trial if the police follow simple rules to insure the process is voluntary. A voluntary interview contains both statements from the juvenile and the police detective. The police are trained to prejudice the child during the recorded interrogation by making statements which hurt the juvenile’s chances for success at trial. For example, in a sexual assault case, the detective will claim that a minor child “victim” would not lie about the abuse. The detective will offer damaging statements regarding the believability of the “victim” and the lack of credibility of the juvenile. These gratuitous statements intentionally made by the police to manipulate the jury are rarely suppressed by the courts.
When a child is faced with a criminal allegation, the best way they can protect themselves is simply by exercising their right to remain silent. The 5 th Amendment of the United States Constitution gives all persons accused, both adult and juvenile, the right to remain silent. It is among one of our most important rights and is something that should be exercised in all situations. If a juvenile refuses to talk to the police, it cannot be held against them during trial. Furthermore, it denies the State a chance to manipulate statements that the juvenile may make.
If your child is being accused of committing a crime, call Stuckle and Associates today. We will immediately begin doing what is necessary to protect the rights of your child. This includes ensuring that the police do not get the opportunity to interrogate your child.