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Teen Suicide Prompts Illinois to Change Procedure for Juvenile Interrogations

Posted on in Criminal Law

Teen Suicide Prompts Illinois to Change Procedure for Juvenile InterrogationsMost teenagers cannot help but feel intimidated when a police officer questions them. They may not understand that being detained and interrogated is different from being arrested and charged with a crime. On the other side of the interrogation, a police officer may not appreciate the trauma that a teenager may experience after being questioned about a serious crime. In 2017, a 16-year-old high school student in Naperville, Illinois, committed suicide after a school resource officer had detained him for questioning at the school over an alleged recording of a sexual encounter. The teen’s parents were not aware of the allegations or the police questioning until after the teen took his own life. In response to this incident, Illinois recently enacted a new law that changes the procedure for police questioning a student on school grounds.

Parental Notification

A law enforcement officer who suspects a student younger than 18 of committing a crime must comply with the following steps if they intend to detain and question them on school grounds:

  • They must notify or attempt to notify the student’s parents or guardian;
  • They must try to allow a parent or guardian to attend the questioning;
  • If a parent or guardian is unavailable, they must allow a mental health professional to attend, such as a school psychologist or social worker; and
  • If reasonable, they must try to include a law enforcement officer who is trained in communicating with youth.

The law states that its rules apply when a student is on school property during regular school hours and when students are present.

Emergency Exceptions

State law enforcement initially opposed the law because they feared it would prevent them from taking immediate action when there is an imminent threat at a school. The law was amended to say that an officer is allowed to make an immediate arrest in an emergency, such as:

  • Stopping a threat of bodily harm or injury;
  • Apprehending an armed or fleeing suspect; or
  • Preventing the destruction of evidence.

For example, police can immediately arrest and detain a student who brings a weapon to school but must use more caution if they suspect that a student possesses an illegal recording of a sexual nature.

Contact a Crystal Lake Criminal Defense Attorney

A teenager who has been arrested and charged with a crime may fear that they have ruined their life. They need the presence of a trusted adult to protect them and prevent them from making rash decisions, such as hurting themselves. A McHenry County juvenile defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help mitigate the consequences from your teen’s arrest that could otherwise limit their future. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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