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Juveniles have specific rights during questioning by police

Juveniles who are suspected of criminal activities often have to go through the questioning in a similar manner as adults who are suspected of criminal activity. Just as adults must be informed of their legal rights prior to be questioned, so must juveniles. The issue with juveniles being informed of their rights is that things aren't as cut and dry as they are for adults.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a person's age must be taken into account when they are being informed of their rights. Generally, juveniles must either be informed of their Miranda rights in a way that they can understand or they must be told that they are free to leave the room at any point during the questioning. When neither of those occurs, the juvenile might not have been properly informed and any statement he or she makes might not be admissible during legal processes.

The Supreme Court's ruling noted that children aren't just small adults. Children don't necessarily have the same thought processes and levels of understanding that adults have. Because of that, any juvenile who is being questioned by police must be informed of all his or her rights in an age-appropriate manner.

Parents who learn that their child is facing charges in the juvenile justice system should get to work on a defense plan immediately. In some cases, reviewing the procedures used to question the juvenile might uncover points that can be used to call certain statements into question. Understanding the process for questioning juveniles and how certain aspects of informing the juvenile of his or her rights can help if that aspect is used as part of a defense.

Source: FindLaw, "Police Questioning of Minors," accessed Nov. 11, 2015

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