Your teenager was stopped by the police and is suspected of committing a crime. The law lets you be with your child as soon as the police get involved and throughout the legal process.
Stay Informed and Support Your Child
Teenagers suspected of committing crimes often go through a process that involves several steps. They might have to meet the police a few times, for example, when the police stop or question them. This can be very stressful and can have consequences for a teen’s future.
If this happens to your child, you will be told about the measures or court proceedings that will be taken. You will be encouraged to accompany your child and provide support during the process.
If the parents are separated, the police usually contact the parent the child lives with.
Reminder! A parent who does not have custody still has parental authority. That parent has a right to take part in important decisions about the child and must be kept up to date on the situation.
Your Child Is Stopped by Police
The police usually tell the parents when they stop a teenager on suspicion of committing a crime. The police will contact the parents even if they decided not to arrest the teen but to apply an extrajudicial measure instead.
An extrajudicial measure can be just a warning or a referral to a community organization called an Organisme de justice alternative or OJA (alternative justice organization). When a teen is referred to an OJA, a worker from the OJA will contact the parents to arrange a meeting.
If a teen gets a ticket, a copy of the ticket must be sent to the parents unless it is just a parking ticket
Police Arrest or Detain Your Child
The police must tell at least one parent as soon as possible after they arrest or detain a teenager under 18. The police must tell the parents what crime the teen has been arrested for. If the police detain the teen, they must also tell the parents where the teen is being detained.
If the police cannot reach the parents, they must contact another adult whom the teen knows.
Your child was arrested, detained or questioned by the police.
Encourage your child to talk to a lawyer before answering any questions. Your child has this right. You also have the right to speak to a lawyer before answering the police’s questions.
Police Question Your Child
The police might want to question teenagers suspected of a crime. Teens have the right to contact a lawyer and one of their parents before talking to the police.
Parents can also be present when police question a teen, but the teen must ask for this.
If the parents are not available, the teen has the right to choose and contact another adult. But the adult cannot be involved in the crime the teen is suspected of.
Your Child Gets a Notice to Appear in Court
The police must tell at least one parent if they order a teen to appear before a judge. The police will give the teen a document, called a promise to appear, an appearance notice or a summons. The parents also get a copy of this document.
Important! Parents have an important role when a teen goes to court. Learn more by reading our article Going to Court With Your Child.
Police Release Your Child on Conditions
The police can release a teenager on special conditions, for example, being home by a set time. The teen must obey these conditions.
The conditions are written on the document the police gave the teen at the time of arrest, called a promise to appear. One of the parents also receives a copy of this document.
Teens who do not obey the conditions could be accused of another crime, often called a failure to comply.
The parent is the victim.
Sometimes parents are victims of crimes their children commit. For example, the child might steal from them or be violent with them. Some resources exist to help crime victims.
If the parents make a formal complaint against the child, they might have to answer questions in court against the child. Parents can ask for special measures to make it easier for them.