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student to be questioned by police

atomomatomom Registered User Posts: 4,374 Senior Member
edited November 2012 in Parents Forum
Today I got a call from the police at S's college. My heart skipped a couple beats before the officer reassured me that S was not in trouble or hurt--they were trying to contact S "to ask him a few questions." (My phone number was listed as S's contact--so I gave him S's #)
From what the officer said--he asked if my S lived in campus dorms--I got the impression that this is something to do with his residence hall and they wanted to ask S if he saw/heard anything. I assumed they were calling other residents, too, but the officer didn't say this.
My mind was racing about what it could be--maybe someone had property stolen or someone is selling drugs, or some incident/accident occurred and they are looking for witnesses??
I called S later and asked if he got a call from the police. He had, and they asked him to come into the station tomorrow to answer questions.
S is an extremely shy/autistic kid--99.999% confident he could not be involved in anything questionable. He just goes to class and does his homework in his room.
I asked him if he heard anything about theft or drugs or an incident in the building and he said no, nothing at all. I told him to ask his roommates if they got called and if they knew what it was about... Still, I feel uneasy--just worried that my kid could be suspected of something (though police said S was not in trouble, I was thinking "not YET, anyway. . .")
Is there anything S should know before he goes in to answer questions? (S has very poor verbal communication skills, so I worry about him giving the wrong impression.)
Post edited by atomom on

Replies to: student to be questioned by police

  • SteveMASteveMA Registered User Posts: 6,079 Senior Member
    atomom--are you close enough to go with him or know someone that could be there during questioning just in case? I'd be concerned too.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,951 Senior Member
    Watch "Don't Talk to the Police" video that is on Youtube. It is a lecture from law professor and police officer. I watched it after suggestions from others on CC. It simply highlights how innocent questioning, even when innocent, can turn into trouble.
    Until you know what is going on, (and maybe even then) the safest route is ignorance.
    Just saying.
  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 4,442 Senior Member
    I would also be concerned. I would not let him go without more information as to what this is about.
  • bklyngalbklyngal Registered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    I am mostly a lurker, but do have some expertise in this area. I would not allow my child to go down to a police station to answer questions. I would either arrange for an attorney to accompany him, or retain an attorney to contact the authorities to find out what exactly they want. You don't want to be in a situation where your child is intimidated, or put in a situation they can not handle.
  • MarsianMarsian Registered User Posts: 939 Member
    I am the parent of a child with autism, and this situation would concern me greatly. It could be, and probably is, a routine witness questioning thing, but this makes me worry about your son. He may act in ways that a non-autistic person would act if he/she were guilty of something. His behavior and his answers may make him appear to be a suspect in something that he had nothing to do with. Are you within driving distance? If so, I'd get there ASAP and go with him to the police station. If that is not possible, please call the Dean's office right now, explain the situation, and ask for someone to go with him. When he goes to the station, he should state up front that he has autism and might not understand what they are asking him (subtleties, expressions, etc.). He should say that he needs a parent to be there because he has autism (yes, say it a second time). And, finally, I would tell him to say he can't answer questions until he has a lawyer, because he has autism. Even if he has never talked about having autism before, he should do it with the police.

    My other children would be able to discern right away whether they were suspected of something or just at the station because they were witnesses. My autistic child would probably not be able to discern that at all. More police departments are training their officers to interact with autistic people. Some are far more sensitive to their mannerisms and way of speaking than others. However, regardless, he needs to have someone with him, he needs to say he has autism, and he needs to say that he can't talk without a lawyer with him.

    Please let us know how this turns out. I feel for you and your son.
  • MarsianMarsian Registered User Posts: 939 Member
    I agree with bklyngal's advice about retaining a lawyer. Go ahead and arrange for someone NOW, before the business day is over, even if you can go with your son yourself. My advice was predicated on the assumption that there would be no lawyer with him tomorrow, but I think I should have said first that he needs one right away.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,951 Senior Member
    "My other children would be able to discern right away whether they were suspected"
    Not necessarily--when you're innocent you think everyone thinks that way also.
  • atomomatomom Registered User Posts: 4,374 Senior Member
    No--too far--unless I drove overnight-- and too many other responsibilities/kids at home (and I was stranded in NY last week--enough traveling for now). I'm uneasy, but not worried enough that I feel I should be there. I'm going to talk to S again later today--find out if he heard anything from his roommates, etc. (I'd feel better if I knew that others in the dorm are routinely being questioned.)
    Maybe I've seen too many cop shows--they always say "never say a word without your lawyer present. . ." But if S has done nothing wrong, and didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary, it shouldn't hurt for him to honestly answer their questions. . .right?
  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 29,977 Senior Member
    I'd cancel the appointment with the police and not allow any child of mine to be questioned by them without an attorney representing my child present, if and when the police work to get the appointment rescheduled. Overly cautious, perhaps, but better safe than sorry. It does NOT benefit the person questioned to go down to the police station to "be questioned." Since your child is shy/autistic, even more he should NOT go and be questioned. Would watch the recommended videos as well, for your own info.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 25,307 Senior Member
    When one of ours had contact with campus police (she was the aggrieved,) DH called them for further info. (Though they called you, you could still say this is weighing on you, see if you can get more info.) He also spoke with the appropriate Dean. Worth a try. Especially since you are concerned how your son will manage this.
  • bklyngalbklyngal Registered User Posts: 105 Junior Member
    Atomom, I am an attorney who specializes in criminal defense. Things have a way of being construed incorrectly, even if someone has "nothing to hide" and has done nothing. This is especially true with young men, who often time go into these situations with the wrong attitude. Even if my child was not on the Autism spectrum, I would never allow him to be questioned w/o an attorney. The fact that they want him to come to the station is more troubling. If it was simply a situation where they were questioning many students they would do it in the dorm. They use the station to isolate people, and make them think they need to stay and answer questions, when they have no such obligation. Just my 2 cents.....
  • austinareadadaustinareadad Registered User Posts: 671 Member
    Just because he is innocent, that does not mean that he is not suspected of something. Because of his communication issues, he might even serve as a scapegoat for those who are guilty, as they may point the finger at him knowing that he may have difficulty explaining why he is innocent. As others have said, it is better to be safe than sorry.
  • gouf78gouf78 Registered User Posts: 5,951 Senior Member
    If EVERYBODY is being questioned--they won't need your son. Maybe just routine stuff.
    Hold off.
    If only a few being questioned--hold off.
    You really need to know what the questioning is about. All this sounds really paranoid but better safe than sorry. Hopefully, it's nothing big and all the alarm bells we have don't amount to beans.
  • MizzBeeMizzBee Registered User Posts: 4,576 Senior Member
    Agree with bklyngal completely. If the questioning was completely routine and happening with a large number of students, they would most likely question him on campus. Better for him to go in prepared and willing to cooperate with the added benefit of having counsel there.

    A trick that a friend of mine teaches all of his clients when being questioned by police or in depositions, on the stand, etc is to repeat the question in your head before you answer. It can greatly help you not give additional information or blurt out details that are not relevant.
This discussion has been closed.