Do Miranda warnings apply to Juveniles?

The Fifth amendment right against self-incrimination was made famous in the Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona.  This case set out the framework for the now well known “Miranda warning.”  This warning should be read to individuals that are (1) in police custody and (2) subject to police interrogation.   Most people are familiar with the following advisement derived from Miranda:

“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 to you.   Do you understand these rights?  Do you still wish to give a statement?”

The purpose of the Miranda warning is to safeguard individuals from making false confessions while being interrogated by the police.  The Court in Miranda recognized that custodial police interrogation can be incredibly stressful.  The Court also acknowledged that some individuals in this environment could be psychologically coerced by police into giving false statements.  Reading an individual the Miranda warning, from that point forward, became standard police practice before questioning a person in custody.

If the concern of Miranda is to protect potentially vulnerable individuals from giving false confessions, are police officers required to read Miranda warnings to juveniles before questioning them?  And, are there any additional constitutional protections afforded to juveniles when being questioned by the police?

The answer to both questions is yes.  Indiana Courts recognize the importance of protecting juveniles from making false statements.  As a result, Indiana requires police to do more than simply reading the Miranda warning to the juvenile before questioning them.  The legislation has provided extra safeguards that must be followed by police to make sure a juvenile’s rights are protected.

First, both the juvenile and their parent must be advised of the juvenile’s rights (i.e. read the Miranda warning).  Next,  IC 31-32-5-1 provides that a juvenile can only waive Miranda rights through their attorney, a custodial parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem if:

  1. That person also knowingly and voluntarily waives the juvenile’s right to remain silent;
  2. That person has no interest adverse to the child (i.e. the person is not acting on behalf of the police, is not a witness, and is not an alleged victim in the investigation);
  3. A meaningful consultation has occurred between that person and the child; and
  4. The child knowingly and voluntarily joins with the waiver of the right to remain silent.

All of these requirements must be met before the State can introduce a statement given by a juvenile in a delinquency prosecution.  The extra safeguards are in place to ensure that both the juvenile and his or her parent agree to knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive the juvenile’s rights.  The inclusion of the “meaningful consultation” requirement in paragraph 3 is designed to allow the parent and juvenile to discuss, in private, whether or not to waive the juvenile’s rights before speaking to the police.  The police must provide a private atmosphere, free from any police pressure, in which the juvenile and the parent can have a meaningful discussion about giving the police a statement.

Deciding whether or not to speak to the police is a major decision.  Deciding whether or not to allow your child to speak to the police is just as important.  If the police want to take a statement from either you or your child, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC.  We are available at all times by calling us at (317) 870-0019, or by emailing info@banksbrower.com.