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When Kids Get Arrested

When Kids Get Arrested: What Every Adult Should Know

Sandra Simkins
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    When Kids Get Arrested
    Book Description:

    Every year, millions of children across the country get arrested. What most adults do not know is that the juvenile justice system has become much more punitive in the last fifteen years. No longer is juvenile court a place where regardless of what happens you get a clean slate when you turn eighteen. Today almost every adjudication of delinquency is accompanied by adult-style fingerprinting, prior record score points, and DNA tests that can stay in a state repository for years. For every stage of the justice system, from arrest to expungement,When Kids Get Arrestedgives "top tips" to help adults make the best choices to protect children from long-term negative consequences.

    Sandra Simkins provides straight answers to common questions such as:

    Should I let my child talk to the police without a lawyer?How can I help my child succeed on probation?Should my child admit to the charges or take the case to trial?How will this case impact my child's future? Will it prevent him from getting a job or going into the army?My child has mental health issues. Can the juvenile justice system help?My daughter is out of control. Should I call the police?My son got arrested at school and is now suspended. What should I do next?

    Simkins takes complicated legal concepts and breaks them down into easy-to-understand guidelines. She includes information on topics such as police interrogation, detention hearings, and bail, along with state-by-state specifics.When Kids Get Arrestedis a perfect resource for parents, social workers, guidance counselors, teachers, principals, coaches, and anyone else who works with children.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4818-0
    Subjects: Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. IX-X)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. XI-XII)
    (pp. XIII-XVI)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    No one is ever prepared for the arrest of a child. Unlike a medical emergency, when it comes to a legal crisis in delinquency court, people don’t know where to go for help. As a juvenile defense attorney, I’ve watched confused adults face the maze of juvenile court and unknowingly make choices that will dramatically alter the life course of a child they care about. Unfortunately, these choices are made in a vacuum of isolation, embarrassment, and misinformation.

    For years I have been on the other end of the phone with someone encountering the juvenile justice system for the first...

  7. Part I: The Juvenile Justice Process

    • 1 Overview of Juvenile Court
      (pp. 7-16)

      Trying to navigate the juvenile justice system without a lawyer is like trying to be your own doctor. You might be able to do it, but it is definitely not smart. Ever since Gerald Gault got sentenced to six years for making a prank phone call, children who get arrested have been entitled to important legal protections.¹ The most important of these rights is the right to be represented by a lawyer, even if you cannot afford one.

      Unfortunately, although theGaultcase secured legal rights for children, many well-meaning adults encourage children to waive these important rights. Of the...

    • 2 Interrogation: What the Police Don’t Want You to Know
      (pp. 17-28)

      During gym class, sixth-grader Darryl was playing basketball with his classmates. At one point, in the middle of the game, Darryl said “I’m going to kill you” to a child on the opposing team. The following day, the school called the police. The police took Darryl into a room alone, where he confessed to making the statement. Darryl was then taken to the police station and charged with terroristic threats. His statement was used by the prosecutor to find him guilty.

      Twelve-year-old Carly was in a residential program for abused children. One day the police showed up and asked to...

    • 3 Arrest
      (pp. 29-36)

      It is truly a scary thing to see a child you care about handcuffed and placed into a police car. For adults, the lack of control and lack of understanding about what will happen to the child while he is in custody adds anxiety to an already stressful situation. Once a child is in police custody, concerned adults may not have access to him until after the processing is complete. If you understand the process in advance you will be in the best position to protect him.

      When parents or guardians get a call that their child is in police...

    • 4 The Detention Hearing: Will They Keep the Child in Custody until Trial?
      (pp. 37-54)

      Meet Thomas and Melissa. They had detention hearings the same week. Although Melissa was charged with having one marijuana cigarette in her pocket and Thomas was charged with rape, it was Melissa who was held in the detention center.

      When the judge looked at Melissa’s case, he saw the following situation: a fifteen-year-old girl who had a prior arrest and had missed her court date. He saw a school record with ninety unexcused absences. There was a probation officer’s report that said Melissa refused to cooperate and that she continued to test positive for drugs, stay out late, and hang...

    • 5 Pretrial Issues: What to Do between the Detention Hearing and the Trial
      (pp. 55-68)

      Sean was arrested for robbery. According to the police report he came up from behind the victim, pushed him to the ground, and took his iPod. At the detention hearing the judge allowed Sean to go back home on the condition that he be placed on electronic monitoring (a small metal ankle bracelet that could track exactly when he was out of the house). While on electronic monitoring Sean could only be at home or school: no after-school activities were allowed and no weekend activities except church. This was Sean’s first arrest, and he insisted that he was innocent. He...

    • 6 Should the Child Take a Deal or Go to Trial?
      (pp. 69-82)

      Fourteen-year-old John sat with his father in the courthouse hallway. It was the first court hearing since the detention hearing. John had gone to the attorney’s office for an interview, but the attorney didn’t have any of the paperwork from the case yet. The attorney told John he would get the discovery today, and then they would talk about the case.

      John watched all the people coming in and out of the courtroom. Once in a while a person would come out and call someone’s name. Finally, a lawyer named Kevin came out and called John’s name. John and his...

    • 7 Will the Juvenile Record Go Away When the Child Becomes an Adult?
      (pp. 83-90)

      One of the most common myths about juvenile court is that the child’s record becomes clean when he turns eighteen. This is not true. In most cases, the juvenile record will follow the child unless he has completed an expungement process. An expungement is when an arrest is erased from a person’s criminal record.

      In order to get an expungement the following steps have to be followed:

      1. The child must first be eligible for an expungement (see table 7.1).

      2. The child must file an expungement motion with the court.

      3. The judge must grant the expungement motion. A judge can decide...

    • 8 Disposition Hearing (Sentencing): Asking the Court to Provide the Services the Child Needs
      (pp. 91-102)

      Melvin’s social worker knew exactly when things started to go downhill. It was clear to her why Melvin’s grades had slipped from Bs to Ds, and why he had started hanging out with boys who got into trouble. It was all related to the death of his favorite uncle, Joe. Although Melvin was in foster care, his Uncle Joe came to visit him at least once a week—taking him out to see a game, or get some food. His Uncle Joe seemed to be able to reach Melvin and keep him on track, despite the loss of his parents....

    • 9 How to Succeed on Probation
      (pp. 103-112)

      Darryl was arrested while taking some CDs out of an unlocked car. Darryl decided to admit to the crime and was given six months of probation. Over the next six months, Darryl did not do the fifty hours of community service that the judge ordered. He also did not visit Ms. Jones, his probation officer, every month as he had been instructed, and did not pay the court costs of forty dollars.

      After five months, Ms. Jones filed a motion to bring Darryl back to court. At the hearing, Ms. Jones said, “Your Honor, Darryl has been completely uncooperative while...

    • 10 When the Child Is Sent to Residential Placement
      (pp. 113-124)

      The judge looked down from the bench and said, “You may hug your child good-bye.”

      Gina looked at her son Charles, but he would not make eye contact. “Be good,” she said, “I love you.” She reached out to hug him, quickly, and then watched as the sheriff led him away. A few tears leaked from her eyes. Tears of sadness that this day had come, and tears of relief—at least she would know where he was every night instead of constantly worrying that he would end up hurt on the streets. Probation hadn’t worked. This placement seemed like...

  8. Part II: Important Issues and Special Populations

    • 11 Transferring Children to Adult Criminal Court
      (pp. 127-136)

      On the day of the incident, sixteen-year-old Nyeema had been in court, waiting for the judge to decide whether her baby’s paternal grandmother should have more visits with her baby. Nyeema couldn’t believe she had to go through this again. This was the second time the grandmother had filed a petition like this—the first one had been denied. The grandmother was constantly interfering: first by calling the department of human services telling them that Nyeema was an unfit mother, then by repeatedly calling Nyeema’s job to the point where the boss let her go.

      Nyeema knew that the grandmother...

    • 12 School Search Issues
      (pp. 137-140)

      “Last week the vice principal brought my daughter into his office and asked to see her purse. Apparently other students were talking about my daughter smoking and it got back to the school officials. When her purse was searched, the vice principal found a packet of marijuana. Can he do that?”


      Children have decreased privacy rights in school. As discussed in chapter 5, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees children freedom from unreasonable governmental searches and seizures. This provision does not apply in the same way to youth in schools, however. A search by a school...

    • 13 When Children Get Suspended or Expelled: School Discipline Issues and Zero-Tolerance Policies
      (pp. 141-144)

      Schools across the nation use zero-tolerance polices when dealing with student discipline issues. These policies can result in extremely harsh and absurd results. For example:

      A kindergartener was suspended for wearing a fireman’s costume that came with an ax.

      A kindergartener was suspended for saying “I’m going to shoot you” to his friends while on the playground.

      A ten-year-old was expelled for bringing a paintball gun to show and tell.

      An eleven-year-old asthmatic student had his inhaler taken because it violated school drug policy.

      A thirteen-year-old boy was suspended when he took a knife from a girl when he thought...

    • 14 Special Education Issues
      (pp. 145-150)

      National Statistics reveal that approximately 32 percent of adjudicated children have special education issues. Individual state statistics have revealed that over 55 percent of the children in secure confinement are eligible to receive special education services.

      If a child has been identified as eligible for special education services, there are additional federal rights that may be applied on the child’s behalf. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004 mandates that special education children have the right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). The rights provided by this act can be powerful advocacy tools.¹

      When children...

    • 15 Does Race Matter?
      (pp. 151-156)

      During the summer of 2007, the “Jena 6” case rocked the country. Thousands of people across the country rallied to speak out against racial bias in the adult and juvenile justice system. Thousands more went to the small town of Jena, Louisiana, to protest the case of Mychal Bell.

      The case of Mychal Bell began in 2006 when a group of white students hung nooses on a tree on school grounds. Black parents and the principal wanted the students expelled. Instead, the board of education and school superintendent decided the white students would be sent to an alternative school for...

    • 16 Children with Mental Health Issues
      (pp. 157-168)

      By March, Kelly had become really worried about her daughter, Amanda. Typically a good student who enjoyed being involved in the school band and church youth groups, Amanda now showed little interest in anything. Her grades had gone from As and Bs to Cs. She seemed to spend all her time alone in her room, either sleeping or using the computer. Her appearance had changed too: she had lost weight, and now she wore a nose ring, dyed black hair, and black nail polish.

      Kelly and her husband, Mike, tried to talk to Amanda, but she usually answered with one...

    • 17 Institutional Abuse: Is the Child in Danger?
      (pp. 169-174)

      Unfortunately, I have personally represented many children who have been abused in juvenile facilities. First there was Rebecca, a girl who came to the system because of a fight with her mother and ended up being sent to a residential treatment program specializing in girls who had been abused. While in the program she was sexually assaulted by the night guard, who let himself into her room with his key. Next there was Lori, who, after an overdose, was sent to a recovery hospital where a staff member said he would give her cigarettes and phone calls in exchange for...

    • 18 The Special Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth
      (pp. 175-178)

      A case from Hawaii, heard by the United States district court in 2006, illustrates the kinds of issues lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) children face while confined in facilities. In this case, three teen residents—a gay girl, a boy perceived to be gay, and a transgender girl—testified to the routine practice of staff and other residents verbally abusing children who were perceived as LGBT. Girls were called “butchie” or “playing the bull” or “fucking cunts.” The boy was called “faggot” and “dick sucker” on a daily basis. The staff did nothing to prevent the verbal abuse.


    • 19 The Special Needs of Girls
      (pp. 179-190)

      Everyone knew Joanne would get probation. Standing in front of the judge, admitting to a minor retail theft, all she had to do was get through a few questions and she would be out the door. But the judge irritated Joanne, making comments that she found annoying. Joanne responded by rolling her eyes and placing her hand on her hip. When the judge told her to “adjust her attitude,” Joanne exploded. Telling the judge to “F—off,” she immediately landed herself back in detention.

      Joanne is not unusual. I have represented many young women who make their situations worse by...

    • 20 When the Child Is Charged with a Sexual Offense
      (pp. 191-202)

      Joshua is fourteen. For the past year he has been in counseling at the local sex abuse counseling center, because he was sexually abused by a cousin over the course of two years when he was younger. His grandparents took him to counseling when they noticed changes in Joshua’s behavior at home and at school. Eventually, Joshua revealed to them what he had been through, and they wanted to get him help. The cousin had moved out of state and was never prosecuted.

      The counselor tells Joshua that he will get the most out of his therapy if he completely...

  9. Resources
    (pp. 203-208)
  10. Index
    (pp. 209-215)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 216-216)