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Miranda Rights for Juveniles: Can They Be Waived?

As of September 2020 (Effective January 1, 2021), there are some important new rules you should be aware of with respect to Miranda rights for juveniles.

The new rules introduce legislation that is critical to the well-being of adolescents who are accused of a crime. Read on to learn more.

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Changes to CA Welfare and Institutions Code §625.6

These are the most important changes to California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 625.6 that you should know about:

  • A child 17 years or younger may not be interrogated or waive the Miranda rights until after the child has had a chance to consult with legal counsel, either:
    • In person
    • By telephone
    • By video conference
  • If the arresting officer fails to allow the child to meet with counsel before interrogating or allowing him or her to waive the Miranda warnings, then that officer’s credibility will come into question (under §780 of the Evidence Code).
  • Probation officers are not required to allow the child to speak with legal counsel before interrogation or waiving the Miranda rights, as long as the tasks performed are within the scope of the officer’s duties.

While these protections are expected to help children understand their legal rights after getting arrested, there are some exceptions to the new rule. If both of the following criteria are met, the court will allow statements made by the adolescent to be admissible in court:

  • The law enforcement personnel who questioned the adolescent reasonably believed that the requested information was necessary to protect life or property from an imminent threat; and
  • The questions asked of the minor pertained only to the information reasonably needed.

It also must be understood that while the new statute seeks to introduce a procedure to help protect the rights of minors it does not provide for the automatic exclusion of a statement of a minor if constitutional safeguards are otherwise protected. It is however one factor that will be considered to determine if the statement was voluntary or otherwise taken in a manner meeting constitutional standards. To understand the constitutional standards relating to Miranda for minors please see our blog, "Miranda Rights for Minors."

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If your child has been accused of a delinquent act but has not yet been charged, you need IMMEDIATE representation for your child. Don’t hesitate to reach out—we may be able to help.

If you need effective defense for your child, contact our skilled attorneys at The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson by calling (925) 900-5330 or by filling out our online contact form.