When the police don’t witness a crime, they may ask a potential suspect to go to the police department and answer some questions about a crime that they are investigating. When an individual shows up voluntarily and is not being held at the police station against his or her will, the police do not have to provide the suspect Miranda warnings. If the police detain the suspect at the police station, the police are supposed to give Miranda warnings so that the suspect knows that he or she has the right to have an attorney present during such questioning.
In California, a new bill was recently signed into law dealing with police interrogations of juveniles. In the past, police were required to wait to question children in custody who are under the age of 16 until they had a lawyer present. Children in that situation may not understand what rights they have, and what they waive by talking to police.
The new law extends those provisions to anyone under the age of 18. If police want to talk to juveniles who are in custody, they must have an attorney present for the discussion. The new law went into effect at the end of September, and it could have a significant impact on the ability of juveniles to assert their constitutional rights.
Why did the law change?
Unfortunately, when children are interviewed by the police, they tend to prioritize the short-term benefits instead of evaluating the long-term consequences of their decisions. According to the Juvenile Law Center, teenagers often resort to waiving their Miranda rights to answer questions from the police. Roughly 90% of children waive their Miranda rights and make false confessions are a much higher rate than their adult counterparts.
Without an experienced attorney, juveniles can make statements that can cause serious problems for them throughout their case. If these statements are false, it can be very difficult for defense attorneys to build a strategy that minimizes the damage that may result from such conversations with law enforcement.
If your child has been arrested by law enforcement, make sure that you are able to consult an experienced attorney to begin building your defense. The sooner you take action, the more potential options may be available to you. You do not want your child pressured into making statements that result in lifelong complications.