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A 16-year-old making a police statement

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My 16-year-old MC needs to go down to the local police station and make a statement. It's voluntary information about an ongoing investigation (something she witnessed).

Will the police tell her she needs to have a parent/guardian present before she can make a statement? Will she be required to have a lawyer present even though she's just offering up information about something she saw? (ie: she's not a suspect in any wrongdoing).

Anyone got any ideas?

Thanks!
Sarah
#1 - September 25, 2011, 06:39 AM
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I have no idea, Sarah - but, I do know that my local police department (the non-emergency #) was very helpful in giving me procedural information when I needed it. So, you might want to give them a call.
#2 - September 25, 2011, 07:14 AM
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Thanks Julia. I was thinking I might call in to my local police station and see what they say. It's great to hear yours was so helpful. I get nervous about these types of things.  :blush
#3 - September 25, 2011, 07:39 AM
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Sarah, my daughter was asked to do the same thing when she was 16. They actually came to her school, and the assistant principal called me to tell me what was happening. They wanted to take her and a friend (a boy who also had information about the incident, which involved a friend of theirs from a different school). I was concerned because it was out of the blue, and I asked to talk to the officer. He verified that my daughter was not in any trouble, they just wanted her statement about what she had witnessed. I made sure of what police station they were taking her to, and got his assurance they would bring her back to school right afterward. I talked to my daughter to make sure she was okay with it, and she was.

That's all I can tell you... I thought it was kind of weird, but it didn't seem to traumatize her, or anything!
#4 - September 25, 2011, 09:14 AM

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I believe that if the person is giving a witness statement, especially voluntarily, and not being questioned as a potential suspect, they do not need a parent (or lawyer) present. Whether the police would call the parents if a minor came in to give information on their own, I don't know but I think it would probably depend on the situation and seriousness of the crime. The line between witness and potential suspect can be thin, and so if for example, the person was with a murderer when they committed a murder, that would be a very different situation from say, being across the parking lot and seeing someone they know sprinting out of a store that's been robbed, or having a friend tell them about a crime they committed. And in the former, I'm pretty sure they would eventually call the parents.
#5 - September 25, 2011, 11:32 AM
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I'm friends with a detective. I sent him a message and will let you know what he says. :-)
#6 - September 25, 2011, 08:02 PM
« Last Edit: September 25, 2011, 08:09 PM by Car »
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Hi Sarah,

I just asked my husband, who is a police officer.  He said that a 16-year-old would not need to have a parent, guardian, or lawyer present to provide a witness statement in an ongoing investigation.  The only time a person would have a lawyer present is if s/he was admitting guilt in a crime, or if that person was an accomplice.

Hope that helps!

Laura
#7 - September 25, 2011, 08:22 PM
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Hi Sarah --
Like Laura, my husband is a police officer.  He says the same thing.  He says anyone can give information as a witness.  It's if the person, in this case the teenager, is in custody that parents / lawyers come into play.  He gave me this equation:  CUSTODY + INTERROGATION = MIRANDA  (you know, the "you have the right to remain silent, have a lawyer, etc.) So since your MC goes to the police station on her own, she's not in custody.  Which means the officers are not interrogating her, so she doesn't need a lawyer or parent present.     
Hope that helps!                                                                             
#8 - September 25, 2011, 10:39 PM

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And this is why I come to the Blueboards - because you all ROCK!

All of your replies are amazingly helpful - thank you.

Sarah  :)
#9 - September 26, 2011, 02:31 AM
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Sarah,

This is what my friend (police sergeant and former detective) said:

If the character is a minor and a witness but not a suspect it would be better if a parent came with them. From a legal stand point depending on the exact age it might not be necessary for the police to have a parent or guardian there to get a statement from the child. Sometimes it is actually better if the parent isn't in the room with the child because they will be more truthful with a detective if they don't think the parent will find out. I've had juvenille suspects before that didn't know mom or dad was watching behind the glass while I conducted an interview and told me a lot of stuff they wouldn't have said with the parent there.

I would say the most professional thing a department would do is call the parent, explain the situation and ask them if it would be ok that the child go with them to the police station to speak with them about it. Unless it was a crime of violence any witness would not be obligated to go with the police but only to provide contact information for future court subpoenas.
#10 - September 26, 2011, 04:47 AM
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Thanks Car. Yes, I think you're right. I would expect the police department would want to at least contact the parents to let them know their child is there and what it's in regards to. Which is perfect really, as it makes my MC's life even harder. More conflict! Lovely.  :)

Thanks so much everyone! Appreciate it.
#11 - September 26, 2011, 07:46 AM
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