It’s important for kids to remember be careful who they hang out with

CHAMBERSBURG – With COVID restrictions being lifted, we’re all seeing the carnivals come back to the area and both adults and kids alike are enjoying the chance to have fun outside again.

But it’s important to remind our kids when they are out and about without mom and dad, be mindful of who their friends are.

A Facebook post of kids at a local event having a run-in with the state police came to light recently.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll and Pat Ryan discussed the issue this morning on First News.

Barkdoll said, “Kids that are walking around independently, they have to follow the same laws as the adults for one thing, but at the same time, they are afforded the same rights and protections as an adult.”

When Barkdoll speaks to school students, he tells them, “In Pennsylvania and really in all states, there’s this idea of what’s called conspiracy.”

What that means is maybe you’re not the one that’s committing the bad act, but if you’re with the person who is and you know what they’re doing and you’re doing nothing to stop it, YOU could be charged with conspiracy, which is treated the same and the punishment is the same as if you committed the act yourself.

Basically, you could get in trouble even if you weren’t the one doing the bad thing. 

Barkdoll said, “The point is to be really careful in who you’re hanging around and what those people are doing because it’s not always easy just to say well I was there but I wasn’t involved in anything that was happening.”

In terms of a child’s rights in that kind of situation, they should be the same as an adult’s.

Barkdoll said, “If the police are responding to a scene at some kind of event, certainly the police have to afford those children the same rights and protections that anyone else would get and in some ways I would say there’s maybe even a higher level of protection those kids need to be given from a standpoint of detaining them, questioning them, so it’s hard to say what was going on here. If it did happen at some kind of a large event, it’s likely there would be a lot of witnesses to it so that could be a good thing on all sides so that you have varying accounts to confirm what did or what didn’t happen. It’s just hard to say based on what someone may have posted on Facebook what the full story might be at this point.

Ryan said, “Heat is not an excuse. A long day is no excuse to mistreat. In this day and age of all the cameras and everybody out there on social media, the very idea that anybody in a leadership role or a law enforcement role would do anything to bring anything into question on these things, that is a head-scratcher for certain. Somebody under 16, you have law enforcement coming in, looking at the situation, going I’m going to cuff everybody and we’ll start figuring it out. As law enforcement would have to try to get questions, they separate them all and start asking questions. Do they have to be told what they’re being charged with at that point?”

Barkdoll said, “So if they are in custody, whether that would be handcuffed or even just in a situation where they are not free to leave, they should be told their rights. Whether it’s Mirandize, that’s what everyone knows. The kids would then have a right to not speak. They have a right to remain silent. Now if these are just informal type interactions, they’re not under arrest, they’ve not been detained, once again these kids would have the right to not speak, but I think the advice from a parent to kid would be look, be cooperative with these people, tell them what they need to do, don’t give them a hard time, don’t make the situation worse for yourself. There’s definitely a balancing act in any of those kind of interactions.”

The availability of video cameras is a real key point.

Barkdoll said, “Courts almost universally have said that police officers on duty do not have an expectation of privacy, meaning people are allowed to video tape and record their movements. In today’s world, you can almost imagine anywhere someone is, the whole interaction, whether they know it or not, someone’s likely going to have it on video. That’s different than it was years ago. I think both police and the private individuals all need to be very careful in these interactions because nine times out of ten, there’s going to be some kind of video evidence that’s going to corroborate one side or the other.”

Ryan said, “So when a police officer says turn that off, turn that off, you can’t be here…you’re out in public, that’s free game. You tell the officer, no I’m in public, I can videotape right here. You cannot squash my rights. Correct?”

Barkdoll confirmed, “That’s right. That is fair game.”

Ryan continued, “Number two, teach your kid if you haven’t already taught them that, you’re running with a bad crowd. Get away from that because you’re going to be charged if that bad crowd does something stupid or that bad actor. You’re going to be going down even though you’re not participating in it. These kids have got to understand that.”

Barkdoll said, “They could end up getting charged and punished at the same degree as the bad actor, so be really careful of the crowd you’re in and part two of that would be respect law enforcement. We know there are bad actors in any kind of situation or any vocation, but for the most part, these officers are good people. They’re trying to do the right thing. Teach the kids if the officers are trying to do their job, respect them, don’t deliberately hassle them or give them a hard time to make the situation even worse.”