Can Police Question Minors?

The right to remain silent is the most basic fundamental constitutional right a defendant has when being investigated for a crime. It is the first thing law enforcement will tell a defendant when taking them into custody, and it makes up one of the several rights – commonly known as “Miranda rights” – that people have when in police custody.
Police must notify a person of their Miranda rights before taking them into custody or interrogating them. If they do not, they risk having a judge throw out any statements or admissions that the person in custody might make.
To decide whether or not police have placed a person in custody, courts will examine the facts of a particular case in order to determine whether or not a reasonable person would have felt like they could leave the situation or interrogation. If a reasonable person would have felt free to leave in that situation, then the police have not taken the subject into custody.
The same rules apply when the situation involves the questioning of minors. The Supreme Court recently expanded on those rules, however, when it decided that the police must take a person’s age into account when determining whether the circumstances of a case merit a Miranda notification.
The Supreme Court held that the trial judge improperly denied a boy’s request to throw out the statements he made to police because he did not receive the proper Miranda notification. The Court recognized the fact that, because of their relative immaturity and lack of experience, children “cannot be viewed simply as miniature adults”.
Since minors’ comprehension of their situation differs from that of adults, the Court reasoned, their understanding of when a questioning constitutes custody will also differ. Minors may experience more acquiescence to authority, and so may require Miranda notifications in situations that would not trigger the Miranda requirement for adults.
The decision does not require a Miranda notification for every police questioning of a minor, but it does indicate that courts will scrutinize police interviews of juveniles more carefully in the future.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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