Interviewer: When dealing with the parent of a minor, or someone under the age of 21, are there any misconceptions that they often have?
Brian Sloan: Parents tend to want to take control. Parents need to understand that, even though they are the mother or the father of the child, even though they may be the legal guardian of the child, my representation, my duty, and my loyalty, is to the client. The client is the one that makes the decisions. The client decides how to handle the case, whether they want to go to trial, or whether they want to take a plea agreement.
I think a lot of parents come into this thinking, “Well, my child didn’t make the right decision in the first place, so they should give up their decision-making powers completely.” That’s just not the way the legal system works.
Interviewer: When working with parents, what are some of the ways that you remove the emotional aspect in order to help them remain focused on the case?
Brian Sloan: There are a lot of emotions when parents see their child get involved with the court system. If the child is under the age of 18, then the parents need to be involved. They are expected to come to court. They are expected to be involved with a counselor and indicate whether this is truly the sign of an issue that needs to be dealt with, or if this is a one-time mistake.
When talking about someone who is over the age of 18, technically adult, but not legally allowed to consume alcohol, parents want to get involved. They want to help their children. I encourage it. It’s a good thing for the family. It’s a good thing for the courts. It’s a good thing for my representation of the child, or the adult, that is, someone’s child.
Family support, generally speaking, is very beneficial when there is some issue or some allegation a crime has occurred, especially when that crime involves alcohol, drugs, or the abuse of medications.
Mistakes Made By Underage DUI Arrestees
Interviewer: What are some of the common mistakes that you see the under 21 crowd making during the time of their arrest, or during the process itself? What are some of the mistakes that you see most often?
Brian Sloan: The same mistakes made by people over the age of 21 are being made by the people under the age of 21. Talking and giving up as much information as the officer requests of you is going to end up hurting you. Whether you are 21 years old, 18 years old or 10 years old, you have constitutional rights. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to consult with counsel.
People need to learn this stuff early on. Unfortunately, the schools don’t necessarily teach that sort of thing. I think when kids are in school, they are taught that police officers are your friends, and you always want to be honest. Honesty is the best policy. But when you’re talking with police officers, just like with adults, there is a difference between being overly cooperative to your own detriment and being respectful.
Interviewer: Is there a sense of humility that you feel that under-21-year-olds have to endure, a sense of humbleness that they may have to practice?
Brian Sloan: People under 21 don’t necessarily have life experience. They don’t realize that they can hurt themselves, that being open and honest with police officers isn’t going to save you. Some people just never learn that lesson, even if they’ve already gone through the court system. People need to look out for their best interest, and either stay quiet or get the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible.
The people who know their constitutional rights, who are respectful to the officer, but don’t necessarily answer every question asked, are the ones that make out best in this court system. The people who admit to everything, answer every question that the officer asks honestly, those people are really going to have problems in the system.
I’m not saying that someone should lie to a police officer, but they should acknowledge their rights and utilize them. You have the right to remain silent. Remain silent.