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Statements of Juveniles

After a juvenile has been arrested, they have the right to receive Miranda rights and the right to be represented by counsel. The juvenile also has the right to be free from self-incrimination as provided under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Waiver of Miranda Rights

The juvenile, as with an adult, may waive his or her Miranda rights. The waiver of his or her rights must be voluntary and knowing. The test to examine whether the waiver of rights was voluntary and knowing is to look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding the waiver. There are numerous factors that are analyzed when looking at the totality of the circumstances. Some factors that are considered include:

  • The age of the juvenile
  • The prior criminal history of the juvenile
  • The education and background of the juvenile
  • Whether the juvenile had the mental capacity to understand the waiver of his or her rights
  • Whether the juvenile understood the nature and consequences of waiving his or her rights
  • Whether the juvenile’s parent or guardian was present

Any waiver of the juvenile’s rights must not have been induced by any threats or coercive statements on the part of officers. Some jurisdictions have held that any waiver made outside of the presence of the juvenile’s parent or guardian is invalid. If the waiver of the juvenile’s rights is found to be valid, any statements made by the juvenile may be admissible.

The Juvenile Confession

A confession made by a juvenile is much more closely scrutinized than one made by an adult. The confession must be made in a voluntary and knowing manner. The confession must not be a result of police interrogation. The confession can be made with a waiver of the juvenile’s Miranda rights. In the presence of his or her counsel, parent, or guardian, the juvenile may also confess to an offense.

Not only must a confession be voluntary in nature, but the juvenile must also be afforded prompt presentment in connection with the admissibility of his or her confession. Presentment is when the juvenile is presented to a magistrate. The juvenile should not be detained for longer than a reasonable amount of time before being presented to a magistrate. Jurisdictions differ greatly on the issue of how much time constitutes a reasonable amount of time.

Copyright 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.


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