A juvenile case always begins with a youth being contacted by the police.
The initial police encounter may result from a school reporting an incident, a witness reporting an incident, or the police observing illegal behaviors or conduct.
Please note that it is always important that you speak with a lawyer before giving a statement to law enforcement no matter how old you are, and whether you are “detained” or not. If police contact you, regardless of your age, it is always smart to ask for a lawyer before you give a statement.
When a police officer detains or arrests a youth or adult, they are legally required to comply with Miranda Laws. People v. Miranda is the name of the case that requires a police officer read someone their constitutional rights before they take a statement from that person that could be used to incriminate them. There are very specific rules about when, where and how a police officer is required to inform someone of their constitutional rights. If you believe that your constitutional rights have been violated, you should tell your attorney right away.
A 2018 law directs police to provide youth, aged 15 or younger, an opportunity to consult with an attorney by phone, in person, or by videoconference before they can take a waiver of Miranda rights or a statement from the youth. The code section that explains this law is California Welfare & Institutions Code § 625.6.
The law does not permit the youth or parent to waive the legal consultation. This means the youth or their parent cannot tell the police officer they can go ahead and interview them, without first talking to an attorney. The law is rooted in the science that youth struggle, as compared to adults, to understand the meaning of their rights and consequences of a waiver - mainly that anything the minor says to the police officer can be used against them in their case.
Probation officers are exempt from this law and are permitted to interview the youth.
The Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office began providing round-the-clock consultations for minors detained by police officers in 2018.