Ah, Halloween! Costumes, candy, criminal charges…yes, unfortunately, as fun as Halloween is, a number of people get themselves into trouble on this night. What kind of people do you think get into the most trouble? You guessed it: children, kids, teens, adolescents or who we like to call in the legal world, juveniles. Today, prominent Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney, Mike Kenny, is going to answer a few questions on the rights juveniles have, and what they should do if they are arrested.
1. Does a juvenile have to identify himself to a police officer if asked? Is he required to carry identification?
There are a lot of issues presented in that question. What I would want to know as a defense lawyer is did the officer stop or detain this juvenile and if so why? Was there reasonable suspicion or is this some baseless intrusion by an agent of the government? In most instances a law enforcement officer is able to inquire the identity of a person lawfully detained and check to see if there are any outstanding warrants or juvenile pick up orders. There are also some curfew restrictions for juveniles of a certain age that may provide a basis for inquiry from a law enforcement officer. There is no legal duty to carry an identification card but without one an officer may take more time trying to identify the individual through various databases.
2. Are juveniles protected by search and seizure laws in the same way adults are? I.e, do police need probable cause to search them, as well?
Juveniles have the same protections guaranteed by the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.
3. Can the police arrest a juvenile before notifying his parents? If so, do the police need to notify the juvenile’s parents AFTER the arrest? If so, is there a timeframe for how long the police have to notify the parents?
This question would be more relevant to interrogation. Police can effect an arrest on an individual any time they have probable cause to do so regardless of parental notification. However, if a law enforcement officer wants to question a juvenile, the officer must make reasonable attempts to notify the family. This is because juveniles have the same Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and right to counsel as adults but they, by virtue of their youth and inexperience, may not be in a position to understand or invoke these rights. The officer may still proceed with questioning if the juvenile agrees to do so even if he has been unable to reach a parent or guardian. The test is whether the juvenile voluntarily waived his rights to remain silent and right to counsel.
4. Can I juvenile get bail? If so, can he bail himself out or does he need his parents to be notified?
If a juvenile is arrested he has a detention hearing within twenty four hours. At the hearing, the prior criminal record and current charge are reviewed to determine placement. A juvenile can be held in a detention center but for no longer than twenty one days. There is no bail for a juvenile case.
5. Do juveniles have a right to a jury trial?
Juvenile cases do not have trials by jury. They are heard before a Circuit Judge who hears the facts, law and argument from counsel.
6. Will the arrest show up on a juvenile’s permanent record or is it automatically sealed once he becomes an adult?
Juvenile cases are generally protected and confidential. However certain crimes are public record even when the accused is under the age of eighteen. Nothing happens automatically, so a juvenile who wished to seal some criminal juvenile history that was available for viewing on public record would have to petition to seal or expunge that record.
7. Anything else you’d like to add?
Juveniles have the same protections and safeguards that adults have in the criminal justice system. The procedures however are very different. It is important to hire a lawyer who is familiar with juvenile cases so that he or she may effectively represent you or your child. It is also important to note that some juvenile cases by their nature could result in the filing of criminal charges in adult court even if the accused is not an adult. In those cases the impact can be significant on a child’s future and it is important to get the right representation in those and any situation where a person has been accused of a crime.