Rule Number One: No One Talks With Anyone; Invoke the 5Th Amendment

The immediate steps parents take upon discovering their child is accused of a sexual offense may make the difference between an acquittal and life long sexual offender registration. Few things in life are more terrifying then finding out your child is going to be facing juvenile criminal charges. This fear is magnified when the charges are as serious as sexual assault. It is critical for parents to make correct decisions during this stressful time. In this article, Stuckle and Associates provide guidance for parents to address vital decisions which may have life altering consequences for their child.

Discovery of a pending sexual assault investigation concerning your child may occur pursuant to several different scenarios. School administrators may call your child into the office where a law enforcement officer awaits. Child Protective Services personnel may make a house call. In some situations parents may learn of the accusation from other family members. It is important for a parent to immediately take steps to protect their accused child regardless of how an accusation is brought to light. THE ABSOLUTE FIRST THING TO DO IS SHUT UP!!! It is imperative for both parents and their accused child to not discuss the accusations with anyone other than an attorney who specializes in sexual assault defense. Immediate invocation of your child’s 5th Amendment right to remain silent and refusal of any and all interviews may make the difference in acquittal or conviction. Police interrogations are extremely coercive and it is difficult for adults to withstand the pressure placed upon them in this situation. For a juvenile the problem is magnified exponentially. Police interrogations are not intended to be a fair and impartial review of the evidence. Police interrogations are designed to do one thing: Convict Your Child!

Stuckle and Associates are skilled trial lawyers who are able to provide an exemplary defense of sexual assault charges. However, the defense of any person is immediately compromised upon admissions, statements, and conversations with investigating authorities. Law enforcement knows what they are doing in these situations. They train for it, practice it, and excel in prejudicing the future defense of the child before it even begins. The police record all statements made to them without the knowledge of either parent or child. The statement you or your child make to law enforcement is automatically admissible in court. Police investigators carefully calculate the recorded statements they make in order to maximize the prejudicial effect against the accused. These inherently damaging police comments are also admissible at trial. On too many occasions the defense is immediately limited to statements made by unaware parents and children prior to any discovery of the proper way to present an effective defense. In addition, the recorded conversations will contain statements from the police indicating the alleged victim appeared very truthful and the case against your child is strong. These police statements are intended to manipulate and sway a future jury.

Calculated law enforcement statements made during interrogation are not the only concern. Research has repeatedly shown false confessions are prevalent in juvenile law. Children are wrongfully incarcerated due to succumbing to pressure placed upon them by the police into making false admissions. Peer reviewed scholarly articles illustrate that juveniles make false confessions on a regular basis. Children are several times more inclined to falsely confess than an adult.1 Police use sophisticated adult interrogation techniques which typically can be extremely difficult for a child to overcome. The interviewing process manipulates a child’s still growing brain into making a false confession. Factoring into this equation is the child’s reaction to being placed in a stressful situation. The child is surrounded by authority figures including school administrators and law enforcement officers. The juvenile is alone and often incapable of withstanding the pressure to end the stress. Unfortunately, the child often agrees with what the authority figures want to hear just to end the experience and get out of the interrogation room. The child does not compute the long term effect a false confession will have on their lives.2

1. “The Truth About Juvenile False Confessions”, Crane, Nirider, Drizin, Insights on Law & Society, 16.2, Winter 2016, American Bar Association;

2. Id