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Can Juveniles Waive Rights?


An article in the Los Angeles Times highlights an increasing national debate about whether juveniles are fit to waive their rights when questioned by police. The article makes a number of points, including whether juveniles can make decisions while fully understanding the long-term consequences.

A study by a UVA Ph.D. student found that “More than 90 percent of juvenile suspects waive their Miranda rights and begin talking after an arrest. Because they are young and the areas of the brain responsible for executive function are undeveloped, they are more likely than adults to make impulsive decisions, are more suggestible to authority figures, and weigh short-term gains, such as leaving the interrogation room, over long-term consequences, [like] remaining in custody.

“These decision-making tendencies can make teenagers more vulnerable to making incriminating statements or even false admissions of guilt when under the pressure of an interrogation.”

Understandably, many parents are under the mistaken impression that police cannot question their child without the parent being present. Virginia Courts have not consistently upheld that a parent must be present.

The bottom line is that being questioned by police is a serious issue and your child should have experienced juvenile defense legal representation as soon as possible. Statements made by anyone, including a juvenile, can be used against them in court, so the best response is to ask for a lawyer.

If your child is being questioned by police, call us right away, 757-455-9277 to talk about the issue. There is no charge for the initial call.

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