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Process for Juvenile Questioning/Charges

Federal Way, WA |

August 2008- my 14 year old son and his 13 year old step sister were sleeping in the same area and my stepdaughter woke up to my son fondling her breast (he also had an erection)- he says that he woke up like that, her story corroborates that and we discussed it and have been dealing with it as just the embarassing situation in an enviorment that I didn't control as a parent- since then, my step daughter has vocalized to her mother that she is 'uncomforable', - understandable- she agreed that maybe she could speak to a counselor, so her mother called to set it up- this was last week- it was reported to the police and she had to go and give a statement...the policeman who took the statement said that he 'really didn't see it going anywhere', but if it did, I would get a call from a detective- the next day, CPS went to all 5 of our children at school to interview them and called me afterward to let me know I wouldn't hear from them unless criminal charges were pressed...the thing that is so unfortunate to me is that we are her primary care givers- she is with mom 3 days a week- and there are a lot of issues at mom's that have been unresolved for a long time- she (stepdaughter) is horrified that things have escalated to this level and my son is terrified that he will go to prison. Today we heard that stepdaughter has to go back and give another statement with a prosecuter and detective present and my son will as well. I just don't know what it all means- does this mean that there will be charges now? Do we need to have a lawyer present? One of the detectives commented that she 'didn't see this going anywhere' and 'couldn't see them going after a 14 year old boy for being a 14 year old boy' - I did call the police and they were very vague about the process, so I just don't know what to expect-

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Attorney answers 2


I am not licensed to practice in WA but you need to see a WA attorney urgently. The following is general advice.

Never voluntarily talk to the police or have you children do so. The police are authorized to lie in order to get incriminating statements.

As to your living situation you need to go back to family court with a lawyer and try for exclusive custody. Clearly things are going on at your ex-wife's that need to be investigated.


It is appropriate for you to be concerned, but you cannot be certain based on what information that you do have that charges will be filed. The case is under investigation. The fact that the prosecutor has wanted to interview your stepdaughter suggests that they are considering the filing of charges, but this still does not necessarily mean charges will be filed. This will depend on the prosecutor’s overall assessment of witness statements and other evidence.

One thing that is certain is that your son has no obligation to speak to the police or the prosecutor to explain himself in any way. He has the right to remain silent. He may choose to speak at some later time but that decision should be made carefully with counsel.

You might also give consideration to hiring an attorney at this stage even though charges have not yet been filed. You could certainly take a wait and see approach. However, an attorney may be able to determine where the case is headed i.e., charges or not, and may be able to advocate on your son’s behalf before a charging decision is made. While it is nice that the detective made such reassuring comments, you cannot be certain that the comments were genuine or that the detective’s beliefs will control the person who ultimately makes the charging decision, the prosecutor.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT legal advice and is not intended for the reader to proceed in reliance on this information. The reader should always consult with an attorney regarding these specific questions as they pertain to the specific facts of his/her case.

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