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The short answer to that question is yes.  Although as I will explain more in detail below, the questions regarding interrogation of minors is much more complex.  I will explain how those laws work and how these laws even affected the outcome of the netflix series making of a murderer. 

I have practiced criminal defense including Juvenile defense for more than 13 years.  I have won more than 10 not true petitions in Fresno County alone.  I have represented kids in crimes ranging from petty theft to double first degree murder.  I recently worked a deal having all adult charges against a minor dismissed by the District Attorneys office and having the case retured to Juvenile Court based on our investigation.   This saved the minor many decades behind bars. 

 

lets look at our first question

WHEN DOES A MINOR HAVE TO BE GIVEN MIRANDA WARMNINGS

unlike adults that only need warnings when there is police dominated custodial interrogation

a minor must always be given miranda warnings whenever he is questioned

 

DOES A PARENT HAVE TO BE PRESENT

NO. as  I will explain below that is only one of the factors the court looks at when determining if the minor gave a free voluntary uncoerced statement. There has been some bad advice given from some supposed experts on the next question.

 

IF THE MINOR ASKS FOR A PARENT DOES ALL QUESTIONING HAVE TO STOP

NO. despite what some Attorneys say this is simply not correct.  Again it is a factor that will be taken into consideration.  Some Agencies will not continue questioning however there is case law that says this is not a hard and fast rule.   The basic rule is did the police unfairly question the minor without a parent that is very much different than saying a parent must be present.   

 

A MINOR MUST MAKE A FREE AND VOLUNTARY WAIVER OF HIS RIGHTS

The burden is on the prosecution to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the Miranda Waiver and subsequent statatements were voluntary.

This means the prosecution cannot use unfair tactics, cannot make promises of leniency or do anything else that would make the confession not voluntary. 

a confession is involuntary if an individuals will was overborne. 

In deciding if the minors will was overborne the court will look at all surrounding circumstances of the interrogation, both charecteristics of the accused, the details of the interrogation. 

the court will consider age

the minors experience with the criminal justice system. 

threats

promises of confinement

are all likely to have a more coercive affect on a minor than an adult.

RECENT MAKING OF A MURDERER CASE

In the making of a murderer case many people concentrated on things other than the minor and what happened during his interrogation.  This was wrong and the court found that minors will was overborne.

in citing the record the court found said the state court errred in finding that investigators never made promises during the minors interrogation.

instead the Federal Court that overturned the state court used the following factors.

the investigators repeadedly claimed to already know what happened on October 31, and assured the minor had nothing to worry about, These repeated false promises, when considered in conjunction with all relevant factors, most especially the minors age intellectual defecits, and the absence of supportive adults, rendered the minors confession involuntary.  Notice the court did not indicate the absence of parent or any one factors made the confession involuntary, rather, it was the combination of factors that indicated the minors wil was overborne. 

The cour then ordered the confession thrown out the District Attorney can now re-try or have the minor released from jail within a certain time period usually 90 days. 

This is the type of analysis that needs to go into every type of motion to suppress the minors statements.

unfortunately these suppression motions usually occur in the trial court.  We have in Juvenile cases did them earlier sometimes to show the District Attorney the problms in there case.  This has worked for us on several cases. 

If you have a minor charged with a crime and there has been a confession you must get experienced counsel immediately.  Call if you have questions.

 

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Gerald Schwab, Jr.

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & DUI ATTORNEY SERVING ALL OF CALIFORNIA

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