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Young man has his hands up against a concrete wall as officers write him up

Miranda Rights for Minors

You may be familiar with the Miranda warnings, which state the following four elements:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

The purpose of the Miranda warnings is to make people who are arrested aware of their Fifth Amendment rights. Most specifically, the right not to “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

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However, since juvenile courts do not function in the same ways as adult criminal courts, do juveniles have the same right to the Miranda warning?

Read on to find out.

Miranda Warnings for Adolescents

According to California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 625.6, a peace officer may take a minor into temporary custody when it is reasonable to believe that the adolescent has committed an offense or violated an order of the juvenile court. When this happens, the officer must make the minor aware of the following:

  • Anything he or she says can be used against him or her.
  • He or she has the right to remain silent.
  • He or she has the right to have counsel present during any interrogation.
  • He or she has the right to have counsel appointed if he or she cannot afford representation.

Additionally, with respect to an adolescent who is 17 years of age or younger:

  • Must consult with legal counsel in person, by phone, or by video conference before a custodial interrogation and prior to waiving any of their aforementioned rights.
  • The court that decides whether statements made by an adolescent are admissible must take into consideration the impacts of failing to provide counsel before the custodial interrogation.
  • The governor must gather a panel of experts to review the impacts and outcomes of these provisions, including the suitable age.

If a law enforcement officer fails to meet these requirements, his or her credibility will be questioned. Additionally, the provision requiring the governor to gather a panel of experts is eliminated.

Miranda Warnings Don’t Always Apply

The Miranda warnings only apply to adolescents who are “in custody.” A person is considered “in custody” when his or her individual freedoms have been restricted. The following two factors are used to determine whether a juvenile suspect is “in custody”:

  • The circumstances regarding the interrogation
  • The likelihood that a reasonable person would feel free to leave

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.