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Are Police Allowed to Interrogate Juveniles?

When a juvenile is detained or arrested, police authorities may try to interrogate the juvenile to elicit more information. Juveniles may not be able to think clearly and will be frightened by flashing lights, handcuffs, and police officers in general. The juvenile may start to talk at the worst moment, and not realize how his/her rights may later be severely hampered or jeopardized by their own words when reviewed at a later date.

Many military programs of elite soldiers use this approach – called the tactic and element of surprise. The moment of chaos when a person is taken into custody is a complete surprise for the juvenile, as it would be for people of any age. Questions and tactics used by the police “in the moment” are designed to take a person completely off guard. This is typically very effective, and an individual will naturally want to start talking in an effort to “make it stop,” or in a last-ditch effort to save themselves from this very uncomfortable situation.

This tactic is especially effective on juveniles, who may not know or understand that they have rights. Not knowing the law, a juvenile may not know that he/she has the right to be represented at the moment they speak up and request legal representation before talking about the alleged criminal event. The police at the moment of a juvenile’s arrest may not have all of the data, and may not even know if the person is even involved in the alleged crime. This is why it is critical that juveniles have legal representation as soon as possible after an arrest, or if they are being held and detained by police after an alleged criminal action.

Juvenile Miranda Rights

If this is the case, a juvenile can state that he/she wants to speak to a lawyer and stop the interrogation in its tracks. If a juvenile is being arrested, he/she will be read Miranda rights during the arrest. Many times, juveniles will unknowingly waive their Miranda rights.

Youths at the moment of an arrest may be frightened. Young people have a natural fear of the unknown. Some young people (minorities) also have a fear of the police, because of the media, personal experience, or what they have been taught in their families or in the community where they live.

For this reason, youths who are arrested and detained are part of a vulnerable population who may “cave” or give in when interrogated by the police after an incident involving a crime or criminal action. Without understanding what is happening to them, a youth may waive Miranda rights by confessing, talking, crying, “spilling the beans,” or other outbursts which can and will be used against them later in a court of law. Additionally, most youths do not understand what it means to be read the Miranda warnings. They may mistakenly think that if they start talking quickly when the warnings are being read, that it will somehow exonerate them from whatever criminal action they may be being accused of committing.

Experienced Juvenile Defense Lawyer- Statt Law

If you have questions regarding a police interrogation of a juvenile, give us a call. We are Statt Law, and we can be reached at (717) 537-0928. We are here to answer your questions regarding your case.