I was dispatched to Mervyn's store for a teenager in custody for shoplifting. I arrived to find a seventeen year old girl sitting in the security office with about $200 worth of clothing on the floor next to her. The store security officers caught her leaving the store without paying for the items and were busy typing up a report of the details.
Her younger sister was also at the store but did not participate in the theft. She told me her mom was at work but an uncle was on his way to take custody of the shoplifter. Since she was a juvenile, I was unable to just set her free with a ticket. Instead, a guardian or other family member had to come and get her.
Her jerk uncle arrived and barged into the security office demanding she be let go. I politely asked him to step outside and talk with me. He was a real Adam Henry and demanded to be in the room with her while I asked her questions. I explained to him I was going to read her juvenile Miranda rights to her and give her the choice to have a parent present while answering questions. His response was the typical, "I know a lawyer... I've got a friend who's an officer... I know some important people... You can't question a minor.. etc... etc.." I told him to wait outside and I went back into the office.
He burst in again and yelled to the girl, "Don't say anything!! Don't answer any questions!!" I read the Miranda rights to her and she told me she did not want to answer any questions. This was okay with me since I had eye witness accounts from the security officers and video surveillance. It would have been nice to have a confession, however, as this is an important part of securing a conviction.
The office phone rang and an irate mother screamed at me for not letting the girls' uncle in the room during questioning. I explained there was no questioning so there was no reason for him to be present. She told me she would arrive in five minutes and demanded her brother (uncle) be in the room. She told me not to ask her daughters any questions. I let him in the room and waited for mom to arrive. He looked at her again and said, "Remember, don't admit anything. Don't talk to the cops." The girl nodded.
Mom soon arrived and came into the office with me, my partner, uncle, shoplifter-daughter, and three security officers from the store. She looked at the store guard and asked, "What happened?" He told her he watched her daughter fill her purse with clothing and then leave the store without paying.
Mom turned to daughter and said, "Is that true?"
Daughter answered, "Yes."
Mom: "Did you actually leave the store with the stuff in your purse?"
Mom: "You took those clothes on purpose?"
I looked at the uncle, grinned, and then pulled out my notepad and wrote down the verbal exchange between mom and daughter. Uncle realized I was recording the 'free confession' and grit his teeth in anger (or maybe disgust; it's hard to tell the difference sometimes).
I wanted to personally thank Mom for getting her daughter to answer all the questions I planned on asking but was not allowed to after the teenager told me she would not talk to me.
FYI: Miranda rights allow a person in police custody not to answer questions. It offers no protection, however, if a non-police person asks the questions when an officer is standing within earshot.