Interrogating Your Child

Tip 2: Don't conduct your own interrogation of the youth after you receive the call from police. Many parents respond to an allegation against their child by conducting an intense questioning of the young person about details of the alleged offence. That could be a major mistake by the parent for a number of reasons.

 interrogation lamp

A parent is usually not also a lawyer. No solicitor-client privilege attaches to confessions made by a child to a parent. If the child admits criminal responsibility to you, you may find yourself in Court, under subpoena as the Crown's main witness against your child.  Anything that the child says to you can be used against him or her in Court, the same as anything said to police.

 

Parents often act as potential sureties for their child at a bail hearing. They take the witness stand, to assure the Court, that it is safe, for the child to live at home rather than jail, while the case is pending. A parent who finds out information about the alleged offence from the child, prior to the bail hearing, may find himself or herself answering questions in Court from the Assistant Crown Attorney, about what the child has revealed, during cross-examination at the bail hearing. The defence lawyer or duty counsel may object, but the Crown may be able to convince the Justice of the Peace that the question is proper, since it relates to the parent's ability to act as jailor for the child pending trial.

 

At some date in the future your child will be on trial for the offence. If you have taken a verbal statement, then you are as much an investigator as the police and you may be a witness at trial.

 

When your child is being interrogated by the police, upon arrest, you may find it difficult to keep quiet and let the police conduct questioning, if you have already completed your own.

 

The role of a parent at a police station should be one of moral support for the child, not as a police investigator. Your child needs you to help access legal advice, make phone calls, find names of lawyers, ask for use of the phone, and ask when the child will be released.

 

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Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor

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