/ 5.31.23

Are Conversations with Children Privileged?

Written by: Doug Ridley

Why You May Not Want to Discuss Your Child’s Case with Them

As a parent, you want to protect your children. But helping to protect your children may include not discussing their case. Only a few states recognize parent-child privilege, therefore you might be compelled to testify against your child about a criminal offense.

At Ridley Defense, we represent juveniles who have been charged with criminal offenses. We work hard to protect our client’s futures. We know the devastating impact that a conviction can have on a child which is why we work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for every client that comes through our doors. 

If your child was arrested for a juvenile crime, contact our office at (805) 208-1866 to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Are Conversations with Your Child Privileged in California?

While most jurisdictions recognize marital or spousal privilege, few recognize a parent-child privilege. The states that recognize a parent-client privilege generally do so only when the child is a minor. Therefore, parents must be aware that they could be compelled to testify against their children. 

Evidentiary privileges recognized in California include but are not limited to:

  • Attorney-client privilege
  • Spousal/marital privilege
  • Privilege against self-incrimination
  • Physician-patient privilege
  • Psychotherapist-patient privilege
  • Clergy penitent privileges

Unfortunately, there is no privilege recognized between a parent and a child. If your child has been arrested for a crime, you need to speak to an attorney. A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand your child’s rights and help you to get your child back on track. 

Are Conversations Ever Privileged Between Parent and Child?

There may be instances where a conversation is privileged between a parent and child such as where the court has appointed the parent as a guardian ad litem. Also, there have been arguments made that the attorney-client privilege should not be waived if a parent is there in the child’s best interest. 

California Evidence Code Section 952 recognizes that attorney-client privilege is not waived by the presence of a third party who is there to “further the interest of the client in the consultation,” to disclosure is necessary in order to transmit the information (such as an interpreter), or for the “accomplishment of the purpose for which the lawyer is consulted.”

How You Can Help

If your child is arrested for a criminal offense, the best thing that you can do is to retain an experienced defense lawyer. A lawyer will discuss the legal process and help you understand what you can and cannot do as their parent. Heeding the lawyer’s advice may prove critical to your child’s case.

In juvenile offenses, it is important to note that early intervention often helps to achieve the most favorable disposition in the case. Consulting with an attorney immediately after your child is arrested or detained is essential. 

Was Your Child Arrested for a Crime in Southern California?

If your child was arrested for a crime in Southern California, contact our office at (805) 208-1866 to schedule a complimentary consultation. Our legal team will work with you and your family to overcome any challenges and achieve the best possible outcome in your child’s case. 

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