A police officer arrests a juvenile outside a house where a break in has taken place. The officer is not sure whether this boy was involved in the break in, yet he takes him to the station in his patrol car for questioning. At the station, it is revealed that the boy speaks Mandarin and cannot understand English. The officer contacts the boy’s father who speaks English, but has no knowledge about his rights. As a follow up investigator, I would discuss the following issues with this officer:
The crime, the law and the punishment:
The officer who took the juvenile in for questioning is not himself sure of any involvement by the juvenile, hence without any evidence, it is not proven that the juvenile committed the crime. In the United States, breaking and entering a house with intent of robbery comes under the definition of ‘burglary’ if it takes place during the night.
The below mentioned penalties can by imposed by a court in the United States, for offences connected with a house breaking, unlawful entering and stealing:
Section 10: Break, enter and steal proven but dismissed.
-A good behavior bond
-Community service order (CSO)
-Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention)
Juveniles, crime and approach by the police:
When minor offences are committed, the officer is required to choose a community referral instead of diverting juveniles from formal process of criminal justice as Under the Virginia Code. Being a police officer one should and must know the various laws relating to juvenile’s custody (Virginia Police, 2007).The legal way to approach the suspect, who is a juvenile too, is to play soft with him. Standard questions and answers sessions which are held between a police officer and a victim or witness are called interviews. These interviews are held in an interview room, outside of the lockup room. While when the person to be questioned is a suspect in a crime, an interrogation is held. The interrogations are held within the limits of the lockup.
Miranda and the rights of juveniles:
It was in 1960 that the Miranda Warning was created. Its creation aimed the protection of the rights of those persons who are questioned by the police in a threatening way. If someone is held in custody by the police, it is mandatory for the police to inform the person of his or her right to remain silent and to get the services of any attorney who should be present during the interrogation process. Any statements that the person gives without being informed of his Miranda rights are deemed to be taken as inadmissible in the court of law. It is not permitted by law to compel a juvenile to answer such question asked by the officer, which is incriminating. Just like the adults, the juveniles also have the right to Miranda warnings which must be explained and read either in presence of parents, guardian or consul (Homeland Security, 2011).
Juveniles can be detained temporarily for the purpose of investigation by the police officers, who are authorized to issue citations or criminal charges as well as safeguard them. Arrest laws are equal in both, the adults and the juveniles. In accordance with §16.1-246, juvenile cannot be taken into immediate custody except under the following circumstances:
-If the detention order is entirely legal
-the juvenile needs the services or considerable danger exists to the juvenile’s life or health
-detention is crucial for the juvenile’s appearance in the court of law
-when some offence is committed by the juvenile in the presence of the officer who thinks it right to take the juvenile into custody for protection and the public interest
-the officer firmly believes that the juvenile has committed an offence
-the officer believes that a misdemeanor offense has been committed by the juvenile which also involves shoplifting, vide code §18.2-103, assault/battery, or bringing a weapon in school vide code §18.2-308.1.
Detention and custody:
For juveniles there are explicit guidelines for detention, which are:
-If the purpose can be obtained by asking permissible question at the location of contact, the juvenile should not be taken into custody.
-If custody seems correct, then the juvenile should not be embarrassed neither his or her family, unless there is justification, juvenile cannot be removed from his or her home.
– It is the duty of the officer to keep the juvenile out of the criminal justice system, as far as possible. A juvenile enjoys all the constitutional rights which are enjoyed by the adults. Terms such as ‘taken into custody’ and ‘not innocent’ should be a substitute for such terms like ‘arrest’ and ‘guilty’ so that it might not give the juvenile’s behavior a criminal label. On the whims of suspicion no one can be arrested or taken into custody, till a valid reason of suspect is present. Under the law (§16.1-254 applies), juvenile shall not be taken in a vehicle which also has adult criminals. Further no juvenile under the age of 15 years be transported in a patrol wagon (H.G.L. Resources).
Suspect cannot understand English:
In the case when the suspect does not speak English, then those officers who are fluent in the suspect’s language can be called to help. The US police department has officers fluent in at least 10 languages, normally. According to 28 USC § 1827, ‘the qualifications of persons who might serve as interpreters must be prescribed and certified by the Director; if he thinks the interpreters’ certification is merited for those with physical disabilities like speech impairment etc., or for those who cannot speak English.’ (Legal Information Institute).
H.G Legal Resources: Burglary Law, n.d. Retrieved from: http://www.hg.org/burglary.html
Homeland Security, Juvenile Miranda Rights (2011). Retrieved Nov.30, 2013, from
Legal Information Institute, n.d. Interpreters in the Courts of United States. Retrieved Nov.30, 2013, from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/1827
Virginia Police Legal Bulletin. Retrieved Nov.30, 2013, from http://www.radford.edu/content/va-chiefs/home/october-2008/right-to-counsel.html