Your Child's Legal Rights

Juveniles have many of the same legal rights as adults, and, in some situations, even more protections. It is crucial that you and your child assert these rights early on in the process, as some rights, if not asserted, are waived.

In situations where a case is merely under investigation and no arrest has yet been made, protection of your child’s legal rights is all the more important. If your child is being investigated or is suspected of a crime, we advise you to consult with and hire a lawyer immediately to obtain advice on how to proceed. When hired prior to arrest, we conduct our own investigations of the case, and we help a client decide how to cooperate with police investigation, if at all. We also contact law enforcement and other government agencies to let them know that the child is represented and asserting their legal rights. We also help families plan for future involvement in juvenile court, if that should arise, by getting started working with our holistic advocacy team early on.

A child’s rights include:

  1. The right to remain silent. A child has a right not to incriminate him/herself, and is not required to give a statement to police (or anyone else). They are expected to provide true identification (name, date of birth and address), but are not required to provide anything other information (providing false information is a separate crime). The key to invoking this right is to say, I want a lawyer… and to say it over and over, if need be.

  2. The right to counsel. The child has a right to an attorney. Parents must provide children with an attorney. If the family can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed.

  3. The right to be free from searches. A child (or his parent) can refuse a search of himself or his property without a warrant. However, searches at school are subject to a different standard. With only minimal justification, school administration may search a child, his backpack, his locker, etc. Again, the child should invoke this right by saying, I want a lawyer.

  4. The right to trial. As with adults, criminal charges filed against a child must be proven by the State beyond a reasonable doubt.

  5. The right to 10 days to prepare for trial and disposition. The child has the right to have time to prepare with his/her lawyer.

  6. The right to have a juvenile record sealed under appropriate circumstances. For more information about juvenile record sealing, click [here].

  7. The right to have their parents notified when they are arrested or detained. If a child is taken into custody, police must try to make contact with a child’s parents. If the child is taken into juvenile detention, the detention workers must contact parents.

  8. The right to a detention hearing. If a child is held in detention, he has the right to a detention hearing within 48 hours of arrest; if the child is detained, he has the right to subsequent hearings to review the detention order every 10 days. There is a presumption for release to the family.

© 2018 Sumpter & González , L.L.P.
Download our Brochure
Sumpter & González L.L.P.
206 East 9th Street, Suite 1511
Austin, TX 78701

Office Hours:
Monday-Friday 9AM - 5PM
Telephone: 512-381-9955
Fax: 512-485-3121
Emergency Jail Release: 512-600-6151