CBS 8 recently turned to Attorney Kerry Armstrong for his insight on the ongoing Cocos wildfire
arson case. Just this week, the original site of the fire was shown to the jury. It is believed that a teenage girl, who now stands accused, confessed to starting the fire at the location not far from her home. The girl's defense attorney is maintaining her innocence, asserting that a vagrant in the area was just as likely to start the fire.
Controversy, however, continues to haunt one element of the prosecution's case: the fact that the suspected girl's confession was gleaned from an hour-long interview with the authorities. Neither a lawyer nor the girl's parents were present during the interview. She was only thirteen years old at the time of the recorded confession.
"It's amazing how much police can do with a child as far as interrogating them without a parent or lawyer present," Attorney Armstrong told CBS 8, later adding: "Look at the spot she's in right now. If she had just kept her mouth shut—under that law she could have done that—and ask for lawyer, she may not be in the spot she's in now."
The Cocos fires occurred in May of 2014 and destroyed 36 homes. Cal Fire believes the fires were caused by windblown embers from the Washingtonia fire, which the girl in this case is accused of starting.
Educating the Public About Due Process
The rights of minors are just the same as adults when it comes to police questioning and remaining silent. According to San Diego law, law enforcement is allowed to question a minor in custody until an attorney is asked for. Attorney Armstrong told CBS 8 that he regularly speaks his local high school students and informs them of their rights during these circumstances in hopes that they can avoid the difficult situation the Cocos fire suspect now finds herself in.
If you have been charged with a crime and are not sure where to turn, then we invite you to call The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC. Our team of knowledgeable and respected San Diego criminal defense attorneys is ready to protect your rights and help put this troubling time behind you.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation.