WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS ARRESTED?

Summer is upon us and as a general rule this is a time when our office gets calls from parents regarding their teenager or young adults arrest or questioning by police.

Have this discussion now. One time is not enough. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions that I hope will educate you and your teenager.

What should my teenager do if they are stopped by the police?

  • Be respectful.
  • Keep your hands out of your pocket and visible to the police.
  • Tell your child to provide his or her identification to the officer when asked.
  • Provide the insurance information and registration if they are driving.
  • Give them the name of your parents.
  • Politely but firmly indicate that they have been told by their parents not to answer any questions. Ask them to call your parents or an attorney. Have them state that they will not answer any questions. This is hard for most young people. It is very common even when they know that they shouldn’t talk to the police for them to give great detail or even sign a written statement. Police can be intimidating and often will promise that if the young person tells them what happened they won’t be arrested.
  • The police are not your friend.

Do I have to be present if my child is questioned? Not necessarily. Students are often questioned at school and describe to school officials the details of the incident. They are not “in custody”. Students should be instructed to ask to call a parent before being questioned at school.

However, Illinois law requires police to “immediately make a reasonable attempt to notify the parent” after a minor is taken into custody.

Should I consult an attorney? The answer is yes. The stakes are high and parents should not attempt to play lawyer. Be very cautious about urging your child to tell an officer everything and as a result waiving their rights. This isn’t the time to teach your child a lesson.

Can my teenager or young adult with a disability be arrested? Yes.

How can I prepare my child? If your child has a disability it is essential that you prepare them for interactions for police contact. Parents are often shocked that their child with autism or other developmental disabilities can be questioned by police and arrested. Some families I work with have a script that their teen can practice regarding police contact. It is helpful that this “script” include a checklist of what to do. Autism/Advocacy Network aane.org has a downloadable wallet card that an individual with autism can carry and provide to police.

If your child has been arrested, ticketed, or you are concerned that they will be facing legal consequences please call our office for a consultation at (312)-640-0500.            

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About MickiMoran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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