Many young people do not know what rights they have if the police or another authority figure approach them. In the emotion and nerves of the moment, your child may comply with the authority even if the request is not appropriate. As minor law in Michigan is complex, it is best to have a full understanding of how the justice system should treat minors.
Discuss your child’s rights before an incident occurs so that your son or daughter has the tools to stand up for him or herself.
Minors stopped by the police
Most police officers truly want to ensure that youth is safe, but the interaction can be intimidating if your son or daughter worries about possible criminal charges. While everyone should treat the police with respect, you do not have to answer every question. Minors should know:
- If a conversation with a police officer makes you nervous that you are being interrogated, you do have the right to remain silent.
- You can ask a police officer “Am I free to leave?” and walk or drive away if the police officer confirms that you may.
- You do not have to allow a police officer to search your person or your bag or car. Be respectful if you refuse this request and ask that the police officer allow you to call your parents or legal representative.
Overall, minors should provide the police with their name and address, but contact a parent or other responsible adult as soon as possible.
Minors stopped by school security
A minor’s rights are slightly different on school property, as the school has a responsibility to keep all students safe. Each school district may have a different code of conduct and procedures for potential violations. In general, minors should know:
- School security may search your locker or your car while it is on school property. Some schools also have policies about searching bags and items brought to campus.
- You have the right to ask for the presence of your parents or a legal representative before answering questions.
Prepare your youth to interact with authority figures courteously without giving up their rights.