Is this legal? - Mothering Forums
Preteens and Teens > Is this legal?
Anglyn's Avatar Anglyn 11:07 PM 11-02-2006
My 15 yr old was questioned by the fire marshall about an abandoned house that burned down. Several kids were questioned, the problem is, I wasnt there, I wasnt even aware it happened until after the fact. I'm not really worried, because Im very sure my child didnt have anything to do with this, but still, I don't think a minor should be questioned by law enforcement without a parent present and without parental consent. Is this legal? What would you do?

Joannarachel's Avatar Joannarachel 11:12 PM 11-02-2006
Yes, it is legal. The fire marshall is not law enforcement. He does not have arresting powers. His job is to investigate fires and find out how they happened.
Anglyn's Avatar Anglyn 11:27 PM 11-02-2006
Well, but he must have some sort of legal authority to be able to question/investigate. I mean, if he finds who did it from his questioning of suspects, I imagine it still has to hold up in court so he must be under some type of protocols similar to that of law enforcement. One of the parents even pointed out that since I wasnt there, they might want to question him later and the fire marshall basically said that if they didnt let him question him then and there, he'd just pull him out of school tommorow (in other words he had no intention of ever letting me know).

LIke I said, Im not worried about what he might have said, and they questioned the entire student body (its a very small town) but it kinda raised my hackles to hear some total stranger state that he would/could pull my child out of school without my consent or even knowledge. He's NOT law enforcement, and I know he has an investigation to complete, but why the attitude? (according to my son and the mom of his bestfriend, this man was very rude and even critizing the kids and parents for things like one child having long hair or the type of tshirts being worn etc.)
adtake's Avatar adtake 11:41 PM 11-02-2006
My dad used to be fire chief for our volunteer dept and he was telling me that the Chief has ultimate authority. He said at a fire scence if there is a problem the chief can have anyone arrested or taken off the scene. I bet the fire marshall is the same way.

Sorry your child was questioned. I know you are frustrated. I hope you or your child aren't bothered by them again.

Good luck!
Anglyn's Avatar Anglyn 03:46 AM 11-03-2006
Thanks. I did some research and your child can be questioned without your consent or prescence or knowledge and whatever they say is admissible in court. But they can decline to comment without you there, or without a lawyer, they still have miranda rights.

Anyway, I hope they find who started the fire and it probally was some kids playing around (who else hangs out in an abandoned house except maybe someone homeless?) It's just kind of scary that anyone official, be it the fire marshall, a police officer, CPS, whoever can have total access to your child without your knowledge until after the fact.

I don't have enough faith in the system to believe that you have nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong. I've seen plenty of things happen to others to make me sure that that belief just isnt true!!

My son said the guy basically told him and his friend that he KNOWS they did it. I told him that Im sure he told that to EVERYONE he questioned in hopes that the guilty party will get scared and confess. If they KNEW, they wouldnt be questioning EVERYONE.
Flor's Avatar Flor 04:15 PM 11-04-2006
Actually, at my school, kids can be questioned by police and searched without parental notification. If the child is arrested, the parents are called after the fact.