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YAwriter72
10-08-2010, 10:01 PM
Law enforcement types....
If the police found the body of a teen and were questioning the friends of the person who was killed (And there are a couple friends who might be involved), would they show the pictures to the friends? Can they? I need my MC to see her best friends body after the fact.

Can the detective also tell them what happened to her? (Am unsure because of the whole minor thing here. I assume the parents must be present during questioning of their children as well?) If the minor asked what happened, can the police tell her details or do they have to be vague if there are no suspects yet?

Lhun
10-08-2010, 11:48 PM
The first important detail in any question regard police/courts/laws in general is: where exactly does this take place.

OneWriter
10-09-2010, 01:46 AM
They don't disclose details about the crime scene. If they have available an ID, they will use the enlarged picture on the ID for people to see (drivers license, etc). When the DB is unknown, then they use a pic of the dead person.

MarkEsq
10-09-2010, 03:43 AM
OneWriter is correct, they would not disclose details of the crime, nor show crime scene pictures. They would be as vague as possible, remember they are seeking to gain information, not give it.

And you are correct in that detectives would interview underage witnesses in the presence of their parents.

Georgina
10-09-2010, 11:54 AM
And you are correct in that detectives would interview underage witnesses in the presence of their parents.

Is this true everywhere in the US? People always say it on tv shows but when I was researching for my current story, set in Pennsylvania, Google told me that it's not against the law for police in Pennsylvania to question underage witnesses (or even suspects) without a parent present.

Google isn't always right, though. So I'd love to get some clarification on this, if anybody has some, and I hope the OP doesn't mind me butting in to ask. :)

Cheers.

jclarkdawe
10-09-2010, 05:32 PM
Is this true everywhere in the US? People always say it on tv shows but when I was researching for my current story, set in Pennsylvania, Google told me that it's not against the law for police in Pennsylvania to question underage witnesses (or even suspects) without a parent present.

Google isn't always right, though. So I'd love to get some clarification on this, if anybody has some, and I hope the OP doesn't mind me butting in to ask. :)

Cheers.

The answer is complicated. The general rule for minors is you need a parent. But ...

First question is what happens if you violate this rule. Only consequence is the statement might not be admissible in court. And for various reasons, you might not care whether it is admissible.

Second question is whether the minor is a suspect or a witness. Basically, witnesses are not given Miranda warnings while a suspect is. And this goes even further as to whether the suspect is in custody or not. But courts have determined that there is a minimal need to protect the Constitutional rights of witnesses. So a child witness can be interviewed without parental consent without too many problems. However, most police departments would prefer have a parent there.

Third is whether the parents are causing obstructions for reasons other than the child's best interests. For example, dad is accused of whacking mom with the child's assistance. Obviously, dad is not going to want the kid talking to the police for his reasons, although there are reasons why the child should not talk with the police as well. So there are various ways to work around the parental requirement.

Fourth is location. Casual interviews at the scene are viewed by courts a lot differently than formal interviews at the police station. No one would expect the police to find the parents of the kids at a playground who just witnessed a drive-by. Obviously the kids could tell the arriving officer everything that happened.

Fifth is the age of the child. This depends upon the circumstances and there are no general rules.

And to get back to the OP. Police departments, especially in the initial stages of an investigation, only release information to witnesses and suspects as needed to further the investigation. For example, a witness might be shown the police crime scene photographs to confirm that it is accurate as to what was there when the witness was there. But you should be starting with the reason why the police would show the pictures or tell the witness something, and then back into the requirements for child witnesses/suspects.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

MarkEsq
10-09-2010, 05:33 PM
Is this true everywhere in the US? People always say it on tv shows but when I was researching for my current story, set in Pennsylvania, Google told me that it's not against the law for police in Pennsylvania to question underage witnesses (or even suspects) without a parent present.

Google isn't always right, though. So I'd love to get some clarification on this, if anybody has some, and I hope the OP doesn't mind me butting in to ask. :)

Cheers.

Honestly, I don't know what law covers this and it may be that it's more a procedural issue than a legal one (though I doubt it). If there are what we call "exigent circumstances" I'm sure it's fine to question a juvenile: "Which way did the bad guy go?" or "Where's his hide out?" But I'd be very very surprised if any jurisdiction would, say, pick up a kid from his school and take him to the police station of questioning without a parent present.

RJK
10-09-2010, 10:25 PM
Jim's answer is the most accurate. A minor cannot waive his own rights. He needs someone in Loco Parentis to advise him. The police, however, can question minor witnesses in a casual setting without a) notifying and having the parents present and b) reading them their Miranda warning.

Any person, minor or adult, can make a spontaneous admission of guilt to the police, before the police have advised them that they have the right to remain silent. The person must believe he is NOT in custody, and the police must not have asked him about his guilt. This spontaneous admission will hold up in court.

Tsu Dho Nimh
10-11-2010, 02:42 AM
Also keep in mind that bad questioning techniques can make the entire session with the witness tainted, or thrown out of court.

Georgina
10-13-2010, 02:57 PM
Thanks for the responses to my side-question, they're much appreciated. :)

Cheers!

YAwriter72
10-13-2010, 05:02 PM
Whoa! Totally did not see all the great responses! Thank you!

Basically in the story, the MC's best friend is missing, and she is looking for her on her own, but then things get complicated and MC takes what she has found to the police (Through a series of clues she's been following...this is a mystery), she answers questions about her friends emotional state, then a few days later, a body is found. So the detective goes to MC's house to ask more questions, but she is not a suspect. She is not a witness either technically. She is someone who knew the BF very well and is needed to shed light on who might want to hurt her.

And this is all happening in a very small town in Maine.

I have had the dad present at each meeting, just to avoid any complications though.