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Parents not always notified about delinquency interviews

When parents send their children to school, they rarely anticipate that their kids will be interrogated by police officers. Yet, many Kansas families do not realize that they have limited parental rights when it comes to the law; officers are permitted to interview teens without their parents present. This tactic, used to ferret out incidents of delinquency, battery and other juvenile crimes, is coming under increasing scrutiny from parents nationwide.

One teen has revealed his own story about being interrogated under questionable circumstances. That 16-year-old boy was interviewed for about 20 minutes on Feb. 20, one day after someone lit a fire inside his high school auditorium. The officers did not contact his parents but instead questioned him alone. The parents were not notified until later in the day that the high school student had been interviewed by police officers. They were angered, even though their son did not face accusations, because they thought he deserved to have his parents present.

In many cases, school administrators have instituted policies designed to protect students from inappropriate questioning by officers. Nonetheless, the law in many states does not prevent interviewing teens that are older than 13. There is no legal requirement to contact parents of a teenager who meets that age limit. Even more alarming is the fact that those who are not suspects -- like the boy in the example -- are not even told that they can remain silent or request the presence of a parent.

Advocates within the juvenile law system question the reasonableness of such rules, which essentially allow officers to question teens at will. The only time that parents must be consulted is if the teen very young and considered a criminal suspect. Teens who are facing charges within the juvenile law system should realize that they have specific rights. A criminal defense attorney in Kansas can provide additional information about legal rights and options related to police interrogation.

Source: The Times-News, "Murky waters: Rights of students, parents in police investigations at schools aren't always clear" Michael D. Abernathy, Mar. 08, 2014

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