131 Kids and the Law What happens if the police officer places the child in custody? If a police officer places the child in custody or in a situation where the child does not feel free to leave, the police officer must inform the child of their Miranda rights before asking any more questions. The Miranda rights are as follows: • The child has the right to remain silent. • Anything the child says can be used against him or her in court. • The child has the right to have an attorney. • If the child cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be provided. If a police officer questions a child under the age of 14, a parent or inter- ested adult must be present. While it is a common practice for the po- lice to have a parent or guardian present when a child in custody is be- ing questioned, children aged 14 or older may waive their rights to have an adult present and talk to the police without adult guidance; however, the child should be given an opportunity to consult with an interested adult. Why does a child need an attorney? The attorney’s role is to make sure that the child’s legal rights are protected and to speak for the child in court. A child has the same rights to an attorney as an adult. This person is called the defense attorney. This means the child has the right to a confidential (private) relationship with an attorney. The attorney cannot discuss anything the child says with the parent, guardian, probation officer, or the judge unless the child gives the attorney permission. Sometimes the defense attorney will challenge whether a child knowingly and voluntarily waived the right to remain silent by filing a written request asking that any statements made by the child not be allowed into evidence in court. This is called a motion to suppress. There is a hearing where the judge will hear witnesses and decide if the child’s statements can be used as evidence. If the judge decides the statements cannot be used, the assistant district attor- ney (ADA)* will then decide if the government still wants to prosecute (try to prove) the case without the statement or if the case should be dismissed. Delinquent Children 11