The police might engage in questionable tactics when interrogating a suspect. “Questionable” does not always mean illegal, as law enforcement may legally lie to someone to elicit incriminating responses. Adults might have difficulty keeping themselves out of trouble when questioned by California police. With juveniles, a younger person could lack the experience to realize an officer isn’t looking out for his or her best interests. For this reason and others, some wonder if it is appropriate that police may lie to a juvenile.
Lies, questioning, and juveniles
Police legally lie to suspects because a 1969 Supreme Court decision made doing so possible. Such practices are outright illegal in many countries, and two U.S. states ban lying to juveniles. Still, juveniles may deal with unsettling interrogation practices, including the presentation of false evidence, to procure incriminating statements.
A juvenile might become scared when an officer states a witness implicated the young person in a crime. Now, no such witness exists, but the juvenile doesn’t know this. A frightened young person may sign a false confession in hopes of settling the matter. Sadly, a young one could then face a long prison sentence.
Constitutional rights and representation
Those accused of juvenile crimes have constitutional rights, although those rights may end up violated. A defendant could invoke two rights: the right to remain silent and to request an attorney. Although the police might want someone to make a statement, a suspect does not need to respond.
Having an attorney present during questioning could further reduce the chances of making a self-incriminating statement. An attorney may also advise a juvenile or adult client about other rights afforded under the Constitution.