Last updated 7 August 2017
Having a child involved in the criminal legal process can be confronting. It is important that parents remember:
- if the police wish to question or even arrest your child, it does not mean that they have committed any offence or that they have committed the offence which the police are alleging. The facts may show that the child may have broken the law but not in the way or to the extent that is being alleged
- if the police come to your home, stay calm. If you are angry or upset with your child, now is not the time to deal with this
- you should ask the police what it is that they believe your child has done.
If the police want to search any part of your home or a car, they can only do so if they have a warrant or can give you some other reason as to why legally you must let them search (e.g. they think evidence of an offence will be removed). Otherwise, it is your choice as to whether they can come in and search.
If they enter your home with or without a warrant, you should accompany the officers on their search. They may not like you doing this but you are entitled to do so.
If police take away any property belonging to you or your child, police must provide a receipt.
Police officers should give you their name and number, and the police station they are from if you ask them for that information so that you know whom you have been dealing with.
It is your child’s choice if they want to answer questions other than giving their name, address and age, however, it would be useful for them to have some legal advice as to what is best to do in their situation.
The police can charge your child whether or not they interview them if the police believe they have the evidence to support the charge.
If your child is prepared to go to an interview but the time the police propose is not suitable, or your child would like some legal advice before being interviewed, you can negotiate a time to allow for this.
Think about whether you are the best person to be the support person for your child at a police interview at this time. Your role is to ensure that the interview is carried out appropriately by the police and you should be prepared to advocate for your child in this situation.
Parents also do not have to answer questions and care should be taken in case parents put themselves at risk of being charged with an offence. Parents may also need to seek legal advice.
Sometimes parents complain to, or call, the police about their child and the police then charge the child with an offence. There can be significant legal and non-legal consequences of doing this for the child. It may be better for parents to contact an agency to talk about the issues they are experiencing and attempt to resolve them without recourse to the law.