Juvenile Law and Student Accusations in Virginia…
WTDW Podcast | Episode 31: What To Do When… Your Student Has Been Accused.
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WTDW Podcast | Episode 31: What To Do When… Your Student Has Been Accused.
Welcome to What To Do When….A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss What to do When, and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.
Jackie Critzer 0:28
Hi, and welcome back to another podcast with us here at Critzer Cardani. In Richmond, Virginia. I’m Jackie and this is Scott.
Scott Cardani 0:34
Hello, what’s on the docket for today, Jackie, today?
Jackie Critzer 0:37
What To Do When… your student is accused?
Ooh, that sounds interesting. Accused of what? Yeah.
I suppose really accused, right. I mean, that it’s a loaded word.
Scott Cardani 0:50
Well, I think what I wanted to address in this because I think it’s really, really important. Again, we as parents sometimes don’t think through things, because we’re parents. And that makes no sense. It sounds like an oxymoron. But we send our kids to school. And we we teach our kids to be honest, and we teach them to tell the truth and all those things. But sometimes, there can be an accusation that maybe somebody said, Hey, Billy sexually assaulted Barney in the locker room, whatever it may be. And we’ve trained our kids to go to the principal’s office and tell everything that happened and do all these things. And it’s just not smart. One of the things that I always taught my kids, much to the chagrin of administrators is you don’t write a statement, and you don’t talk. You have them call me. Now, the schools have the right to whenever you kid they have the right to talk to him all those shows they have the right to search their locker that and you know, people don’t understand that. That’s all the privacy right to privacy laws are different than a school. And we could get into all that. But what we’re really trying to do is parents, you need to educate your kids, your children on how to your student, how to respond when they have been accused of a crime, especially.
Jackie Critzer 2:05
then when I’m talking about cheating. Well, we will address cheating and other school crimes, or school accusations in another podcast. So be watching for that in our juvenile series. But in this series, the today what we’re really talking about is being accused of a crime or being involved in a crime while you’re at school. And whether it’s the school resource officer or an administrator or a teacher, or your student talking to their friends, like these things, if somebody’s being accused, right. So like Scott said, if somebody’s you know, so and so saw so and so in the locker room, let’s be more, let’s just be very frank about it. Right? You’re in the hallway and somebody grabs a girl’s butt, sexual assault. It is sexual assault?
Scott Cardani 2:51
Absolutely. It’s an intimate part, somebody touches it without permission. It’s a sexual assault. And assault is an unwanted touching, become sexual when it’s…
Jackie Critzer 3:01
An intimate body part. Yeah, but boobs, genitalia.
Scott Cardani 3:05
And you know, these things kids do all the time. But all of a sudden, you’re looking at something for that for instance, all of a sudden, it’s went from a dumb kid, smacking somebody in the butt going down the hall to a sexual assault. So they go into the principal’s office, they get called down and say, oh, yeah, I did that, and blah, blah, blah, and blah, blah. And all of a sudden, we’re in a whole different ballgame. Because when you come to hire us, which you should do immediately, when your kids accused, our weapons become less. Because your child has talked to a person, they’ve probably written a statement because schools love children, or even as witnesses, they love them to write statements, right? And it’s just not the best protocol. Again, we have to remember that in the context of being accused, in the context, when you become a criminal defendant, you are innocent till proven guilty. So you have the right to remain silent. And you must exercise that right. If you do not exercise that, right. That’s the second part of the Miranda warning says, anything you say, and anything you say, can and will be used against you. That’s the point. You don’t want anything you say. You’d rather say nothing. And you may be totally innocent, and that’s okay. But say, you know, if people have been convicted have been totally innocent, because they said something the first time, the next time they interviewed, they said something else, because they didn’t remember right, right. These are kids that I mean, so they don’t have the sophistication and when adults can do it, right. For instance, I remember a case where it was a very high profile murder case. And the reason they got the guy and it turned out in the DNA years later after he spent like 20 years in jail, that it wasn’t him, but the thing they hung their hat on was, he said he was at his aunt June’s during the thing and he was at Sally’s. And they go oh, you lied about where you were. And they turned all that lie into evidence. And so kids are unsophisticated, they should not be trying to defend themselves. In a situation where they’ve been accused, maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t, maybe they committed a crime, maybe they didn’t. But that’s for them to prove, and for us to defend and walk through and do the right thing. And there’s where we’re at now with this whole I don’t know what to call it. But we are in a position with a situation now where things like when we are kids, maybe I could have smacked Jackie’s but going down the hall, and she made a laugh about her punch me in the face. Sure. Now we’re going to the police and getting charges and warrants and all these things. And it’s just a different posture. And we have to teach our kids you’re in a different posture.
Jackie Critzer 5:44
I do, it’s important that that all of our listeners understand, we’re not suggesting that the guy walking down the hallway who smacks the girls but is in the right, are not saying that. And we’re not saying that she’s in the wrong for having taken it and taking it and taking it in hit on the but by the same guy 15 times already the school year. And finally she goes to the administrator and says, Look, I can’t take it anymore. This is going on all the time. I asked him to stop, I tell him to stop right and then comes to his reputation. We’re not talking about a situation where a girl should keep her mouth shut and not report. Not at all girls, if you’ve been touched in a way that you don’t want and you didn’t invite and you don’t want to have happen again, don’t hesitate to make a report. That’s not what we’re saying.
Scott Cardani 6:30
Exactly. I’m glad you brought that up. It’s so important to know that and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re we want to educate parents, I know both sides of this, you know, you know, but we’re right now we’re talking about when you’re the criminal side of it. So when you’re, you know, when you’ve been accused, you don’t have to say anything, and you shouldn’t say anything. But that’s again, people take that sometimes I hear all the time on our product as well. You just pretty much told us to lie. No, I didn’t. I don’t want you to lie at all. Actually, lying is the worst thing you can do. Because then you’re really putting yourself because sometimes lies are easy to unearth and prove that they’re lies. So we’re not Do not lie.
Jackie Critzer 7:12
No, we’re saying – HUSH.
Scott Cardani 7:14
So you know, what do you do? You get pulled down the office I get pulled down the office they says Scott, we heard that you smack Jackie’s butt, we’re gonna use that analogy. I mean, it could be stealing. It could be anything. You know, you’re you’re charged with taking. You’re taking whatever cell phone AirPods I mean, the myriadf it could be assault. You could have said you punched somebody locker room. So I mean, there’s any crime that involves. So you as a child, you’re walking down the hall, your first thought, I thought should be I’m gonna ask for my parents to be here. They’re gonna say maybe no. But ask. Sure I want my parents here. And parents who should be on the ready this know that if that call comes your your conversation your child has you don’t say a thing. Do not answer a question. Do not write a statement, do not do anything. We’ll get an attorney if we need to. But and a lot of people go whoa, you know, this is silly.
Jackie Critzer 8:07
They don’t have anything to hide, we should tell them what happened.
Scott Cardani 8:10
Yeah. And I get that. And we I want our kids to be honest. But there’s a time and a place in a, and I hate to say that it sounds like I don’t want kids to be honest. I do want them to be honest. But I don’t want to be honest that their Jeopardy and they have no, the criminal law is set. So, the people accusing you have to prove that you do wrong, you don’t have to incriminate yourself, you don’t have to tell. And that’s why we set it up that way. There’s a moral structure there that I explained. But the bottom line is it’s not lying. It’s just they don’t have the right to the information. So we don’t have to give them the information. They have to get it from themselves. And if they do, that’s great. Then we can move. So we just want you to be clear. Accused, ask for your parents, get a lawyer involved. Walk through the process say nothing write nothing. Don’t get involved. Witness. Same thing. Say Jackie saw what happened in the hall.
Jackie Critzer 9:04
I saw the theft happen.
Scott Cardani 9:06
She thinks she saw Johnny or she thinks she saw Johnny again. That’s even better. Because I’ve seen that too. But the bottom line is the school is gonna say alright, Jackie, write a statement. Right? And I’m just, I’m just to the point because things get so twisted and convoluted. That you write a statement. You’re young, you’re immature, you may write something in the moment that you’re thinking then you go home and you’re like, oh, you know what, that’s not really what I saw. I didn’t really know I think about it. That was a candy bar, not the cell phone. I thought it was a cell phone because I had the cell phone of mine and kids are so impressionable. You know, somebody a principal weekend learner and say, Jackie, did you see him steal that cell phone out locker? Oh, yes. I’ll take
Jackie Critzer 9:46
Oh, yeah. And I saw something come out. So it must have been.
Scott Cardani 9:49
Yeah. So I’m a big, big advocate. And I tell my kids this all time don’t get involved. Obviously, I don’t mean don’t get involved. If you saw I go talk to your parents and get your help. And you want to report and you want to advocate for that person who was harmed. I’m not saying that, I’m just saying do it the right way. Make sure you have somebody to talk you through it and walk you through it, don’t just do it on the spur of the moment. Teach our kids to slow down. They don’t have to do this all in a rush and heated rush, which everybody wants to do.
Jackie Critzer 10:22
I think it’s important to remember that, you know, if 10 people see a car accident happen, there are 10 perspectives. Somebody’s gonna say the light was green, no is red no actually was turning from green to red. I mean, there are just different perspectives. And when we are young, and even as adults, we are impressionable, and the memory gets twisted and turned. And so it is important to talk to your parents, talk to your parents talk to an attorney. If you feel like if you feel like you saw some assault happen, or you saw somebody steal something out of a locker out of a backpack. It’s important to talk about those things with someone who can help you file a proper report, if one needs to be filed.
Scott Cardani 11:03
And give yourself to really chance to walk it through a parent’s we should be telling our kid Okay, what did you really see. And it’s okay, let them walk through it and tell the truth, I want them to be involved if they need, they need to report crimes and do those things. But we need to need to do it right. And we need to slow down. And we don’t have to do everything the school tells us to do and starts writing statements and making statements and doing all that stuff right off the bat. It’s important. And you know, we at Critzer Cardani have handled 1000s of juvenile cases literally 1000s, multiple 1000s. And I’ve seen so many things happen, that shouldn’t have happened. And kids get in trouble for things they probably didn’t even do, and vice versa. And it’s just really, really important to know, when your kids accused, what to do and how we instruct our kids is so important. I remember most of my kids friends go. My kids are just funny. They’ll be like, You didn’t write a statement, did you? Because they know I’ve taught them that I’ve engraved in their head. That doesn’t mean my kids haven’t been witnesses in cases and haven’t had evidence and all those things. But it’s just important to know how to do it when to do it. And the bottom line is, if you’re accused say nothing, right? Nothing. First say nothing, write nothing. You don’t have any obligation to tell your story. Ask for a parent, if you’re uncomfortable in that situation where they’re interviewing, say, I’d really like my parents here. If they say no, say, okay, but I’m still gonna say anything.
Jackie Critzer 12:31
Even if you’re comfortable and you feel like you can answer all their questions, you’re better step is to ask for a parent to come up there. And here’s why. And here’s what’s hard. Some kids, in all fairness, don’t have a parent, they feel like they can trust to come to the school and stand by their side, right? Some teenagers probably are going to say, if my mom gets called on here, my dad gets called down here because I’ve been accused of ABC or D. All they’re going to do is stand there and scream at me and tell me why did you do this are never gonna believe I didn’t do it. And I get that and and what do you do then?
Scott Cardani 13:02
Well, and that’s again, that’s why I say you’re better off not to say anything. Meaning, your bottom line comes back to don’t say anything, don’t do anything, because a lot of parents will come in because of them wanting to do the right thing, which again, I agree with. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with taking action as a parent. But when you go in that situation, you go all right, Jackie, you tell the truth right now, where I’m gonna kick your ass where you go home or whatever you say, all right, shouldn’t say that. But that’s what happens in these cases. And so this kid gets scared to death, honey, he just spills the beans. And he may not even know what he’s saying. At that point, there may be such anxiety and such fear that he may be admitting to something he didn’t know, you don’t know how many people falsely told a story just to get out of trouble get out of the pressure of it.
Jackie Critzer 13:44
False confessions happen?
Scott Cardani 13:46
False confessions happen.. That’s what I was looking for. Or they believe they’ve committed a crime when in fact they haven’t.
Jackie Critzer 13:51
So there’s all these things that play into it. So ask for a parent. If your parent comes and you know, I get it. You got to sometimes as a kid, you got to do what you got to do. And I feel for that. But my point is your best strategy is saying nothing, right? Nothing asked for a parent. And the other takeaway I’d have is, if you’re involved as a witness, and you saw something, talk to your parents before you get involved in writing statements and making statements and being involved. I want you to be involved. If you saw something, that’s not the issue, but we need to make sure you saw what you saw. And you don’t get in a situation where you accused somebody of something they didn’t even do. And for instance, when you’re talking about the cell phone, and it was a candy bar. You’ve just published a defamatory statement against Jackie saying she stole a cell phone. And the videotape shows it was a candy bar and everybody’s asking why are you lying? And you weren’t lying? You really thought that happened.
Scott Cardani 14:46
So it’s just being smart. It’s just being careful and it’s being look schools about teaching the constitution but they don’t teach the Constitution they don’t teach your rights. They don’t teach. They teach you everything but your rights and we are here to try To teach you your rights and instruct you and the fact that I know we come back to this all the time, but you have the right to remain silent.
Jackie Critzer 15:06
Scott Cardani 15:07
You have the 16th Amendment right and the Fifth Amendment right in the Fourth Amendment right, and all these amendments that are out there, and they put them in there. They put them in the Constitution as amendments to protect your rights. So we need to teach our kids to protect their own right. It’s very important.
Jackie Critzer 15:21
Well, thanks again for joining us today in our juvenile criminal defense or juvenile accused series. We have more coming for you in this series juvenile criminal defense when it comes to sexual assault, what is it how to defend against it? And we have via podcasts every week, we would love to hear from you. If you or your student is going through a situation and you have questions about it. We’d love to hear from you email us at [email protected] so that we can address that.
Scott Cardani 15:49
And also if you have any ideas something you want to hear on, please do the same. You can send us a slip and remember to Like and Subscribe. Thanks again.
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