Parents of children facing investigation or charges under the Kansas juvenile justice code frequently ask us, “Are officers allowed to talk to my child without me present?” The answer is yes.

K.S.A. 38-2333 provides a practical limitation on questioning juveniles by making confessions and admissions inadmissible in evidence if the child is under the age of 14 and parents and/or the child’s attorney were not consulted first. But K.S.A. 38-2333 only applies when the confession or admission results from a custodial interrogation. And such consultation is not a prerequisite to admissibility of statements obtained from juveniles 14 and older.

The inevitable follow-up question is almost always, “The officer showed up at my child’s school and questioned him there; is he allowed to do that?” The answer to that question is also yes.

Another situation that comes up frequently in juvenile cases is a juvenile having his or her locker searched without his or her consent. The right to privacy inside of schools is very limited. If an administrator or an employee at the school has reasonable suspicion, the juvenile’s locker can be searched without consent. It has been ruled that the school’s interest in maintaining order and discipline outweighs the expectation of privacy that a juvenile has while attending school.

It is something that you hope you and your family will never experience, but it is important to educate juveniles about what they should do if an officer questions them regarding a violation of the criminal code or juvenile justice code. It is almost always in a child’s best interest to politely request to speak to an attorney before answering any questions. And it is important that the child know to do this before he or she is put into that situation.

It is never too early to contact an attorney. Representation during an investigation can be crucial. An attorney can contact the officers trying to question the child or the District Attorney’s office to discuss any possible charges. An attorney can also offer advice regarding how to proceed in the event that an officer shows up to ask your child questions.

Joseph, Hollander & Craft’s criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience defending juveniles subject to the juvenile justice code If you or your loved one is facing a juvenile adjudication or investigation of a juvenile offense, contact the experienced defense attorneys at Joseph, Hollander & Craft. With attorneys in Wichita (316-262-939), Topeka (785-234-3272), Lawrence (785-856-0143), and Overland Park (913-948-9490), we serve clients from the Oklahoma border to the Kansas City area.

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