What to do if the Police Want to Question You or Your Child
If you, or your child, are approached or receive a phone call from the police wanting to ask you, or your child “a few questions”, be sure to act wisely.
We want law enforcement to investigate criminal activity in order to secure our safety, and that of our fellow citizens. The police have a difficult job, and most good citizens realize this as well. As a result, people often speak with police and provide them with information in an active investigation. Additionally, since we teach our children to respect authority, they feel an obligation to answer questions the police may put to them. Is there a problem with this approach? It depends. So what is the best way to handle this situation?
If you are approached, be sure to first get the officer’s, or detective’s name and phone number. When they provide you their contact information, write it down. After you have their contact information, ask them why they want to talk to you. If they are investigating a crime in which you might have any involvement whatsoever, politely tell them that you cannot speak with them at that time. If they insist that the matter will only take a moment, be very polite, but do not answer any questions. Ask them to give you a time in the next day or two when you can call or meet with them. This should give you some time to contact a competent criminal defense attorney.
Once the police leave, or are off the phone, immediately call a criminal defense attorney. Set up a meeting with the attorney, and explain what the police were asking about, and any facts or involvement you may have in the matter. Whatever you tell your lawyer is confidential. Your lawyer will reach out to police and be able to protect you, and your rights.
What if your child is approached instead? Occasionally, the school’s “in-house” police officer (resource or DARE officer) approaches a child asking questions about something they are investigating. Whether or not the school principal is present, your child should be polite, but insist that one of his/her parents be present as well. This may be difficult for most children, but let them understand that they need to stand their ground. The school will contact you before proceeding further. At that time, immediately call a criminal defense attorney, and explain that the police want to question your child. Your lawyer will then reach out to police and be able to protect your child, and his/her rights.
Be aware, however, that if you advise another adult to not speak with, or instruct what to say to the police, you may be committing a separate offense; namely, Tampering With a Witness, or Hindering Prosecution.