Contacts Between FAS/FAE Individuals and the Police
More than half of all individuals with FAS/FAE get in trouble with the law. This is particularly likely to happen when those individuals are adolescents or young adults. Individuals with FAS/FAE can do themselves considerable harm if they respond to police officers in an inappropriate manner. What individuals with FAS/FAE say or do in the presence of the police can affect whether they are arrested and/or whether they go to prison. Many of the basic things that non-disabled persons understand about dealing with the police are not grasped by individuals with FAS/FAE.
The problems that can arise include the following:
- Individuals with FAS/FAE may make potentially incriminating statements to the police. These statements may be about whether they committed a crime, or may be about how serious any misconduct may have been.
- Individuals with FAS/FAE may be persuaded by the police (even inadvertently) to admit to crimes which they did not in fact commit.
- Individuals with FAS/FAE, in order to win the favor of more sophisticated companions or to please the police, may take responsibility for crimes committed by others.
- Individuals with FAS/FAE may consent to searches of themselves or their possessions in circumstances in which non-disabled sophisticated individuals would not.
- Individuals with FAS/FAE may panic during encounters with the police, running away or resisting arrest--thus creating a basis for additional criminal charges and risking harm to themselves and/or to others.
- Individuals with FAS/FAE may say that they understand their legal rights when in fact they do not.