It’s a call you never want to get. Your child has been arrested and you need to know what to do.
Whether it’s the police on the line or your son or daughter in a panic, the information comes as a shock. In the moments after you learn your child was arrested as a minor in North Carolina, you have to stay calm and look after your kid’s needs.
There are immediate steps you can take to best safeguard your child’s legal rights. You don’t have to face the difficult emotions in the wake of that awful phone call alone.
At Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., we are prepared to help you in these crucial first moments. Our criminal defense attorneys are prepared to stand up for your child’s rights and help you understand your legal options.
What to Do Immediately after Your Child Is Arrested in North Carolina
Your head might be spinning as you put down the phone. You might even ask yourself: Can police arrest a minor in North Carolina? Is this legal?
Here is what to do immediately after your child’s arrest:
- Calm down. Remember that even if they are in police custody, your child is safe and in a responsible adult’s care. If your child is under 16, they’ll be in “temporary custody,” not in jail as you know it. Under state law, they won’t be held more than 12 hours, or up to 24 hours on weekends and holidays.
- Ask questions. It’s important that you understand exactly what’s going on. You need to know how your child was taken into custody and why. Unfortunately, under North Carolina law, you don’t have the right to know the details of your child’s situation or to be there when they are questioned. If you are able to speak to your child or any one who can answer your questions, take detailed notes. Remind your child that they have the right to remain silent and to speak to a lawyer.
- Contact a lawyer. Just like adults, your child has the right to an attorney. The lawyer you hire will be able to find out much more information that you can, including what your child is charged with and the details of their arrest. If you can’t afford one, your child has the right to a court-appointed lawyer. Share whatever information you have with the attorney and rest assured that it will be kept confidential.
- Reassure your child. Just like you, your son or daughter will be in a panic. Remind them that you love them and will support them in this difficult time. Talk to them about their experience, and remind them they should talk to their lawyer honestly.
- Figure out which court you will be dealing with. As of December 1, 2019, any children under the age of 18 charged with misdemeanors and non-violent felonies in North Carolina will be in the juvenile court’s jurisdiction. If they allege that your kid committed a violent felony and is over the age of 13, they may be transferred to adult criminal court.
What NOT to Do after Your Child Is Arrested
It is just as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do if your child is arrested. Be sure to avoid these pitfalls:
- Don’t act like a lawyer. Your child has a right to a lawyer, but you’re not it. Don’t try to advise your kid about the law or search for legal answers. Contact a qualified legal professional, like the experienced North Carolina criminal defense lawyers at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert.
- Don’t talk to the authorities unnecessarily. While you certainly need to talk to the police to figure out where your child is and how to help them, don’t be rude or talk too much about your child. Your best bet is hiring a good criminal defense lawyer who can represent your child’s interests better than you can.
- Don’t miss any court dates. As your child’s parent, you will be required to attend any hearings or court appearances. Do not miss any of these, even if they conflict with your work. Your employer isn’t allowed to fire you or otherwise punish you for missing work because of these appearances.
Your Child’s Rights in North Carolina
Under North Carolina law, your child has the right to due process, just like adults. This includes:
- The right to written notice of the allegations
- The right to an attorney
- The right to confront and cross-examine witnesses
- The right to remain silent
- The right to discovery
Your child will be advised of these rights when they are detained, but be sure to remind them especially of their right to a lawyer and their right to remain silent. Your attorney should be able to explain each of these rights in detail if they have questions.
Common Police Tactics in Interrogating a Minor
It might be difficult to do so if you aren’t able to speak to your child in the immediate aftermath of their arrest, but you should try to explain what they may face when the police interrogate them.
Children arrested in North Carolina will receive “Miranda” warnings. They’ll be told they have the right to remain silent and that what they say can be used against them in court. They’ll also be told they have the right to a lawyer.
Unfortunately, even with those warnings, many children will waive their rights and even falsely confess.
You can help by preparing your child the first chance you get. Tell them that police often pretend to know more than they do in order to get people to say things that might not be true. The authorities might say that it’s the accused child’s last chance to escape time in jail, or that they can help themselves by saying they did the crime.
Emphasize to your child that the best choice is to say nothing at all. Most importantly, tell them they should ask for a lawyer.
Contact Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C. for Help if your Child was Arrested in North Carolina
At Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., our professional criminal defense attorneys know what to do when your child is accused of committing a crime. We are prepared to fight aggressively for your son or daughter’s rights, whether they are charged with truancy or a violent crime.
Our lawyers are ready to start with a free, confidential consultation. Visit our Shelby office, contact us via chat, call, or fill out our contact form. We will respond within 24 hours.