In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States (commonly referred to as SCOTUS) decided In re Gault (387 US 1). This landmark decision forever changed the landscape of the youth justice system. Previously, a child accused of a crime did not have the same Constitutional Rights as an adult. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right against unreasonable search and seizure, and the right to an attorney. After Gault, youth charged with crimes were finally entitled to the same due process rights as adults.
Because of Gault, youth and their parents should not be afraid to exercise those rights. If you are being investigated or charged with a crime, it is essential to remember the following:
First and foremost – you do not have to talk with law enforcement
If you are being investigated for a crime or have been charged with a crime, you have NO obligation to speak to the police. Whatever you do, do not speak to the police without an attorney present.
Know your Miranda Rights
Parents, do not waive your child’s Miranda Rights! Speak up and tell the police your child will not talk to them without a lawyer.
Law enforcement interrogates youth just like adults
Unfortunately, it is common for cops to lie to youth during police interviews, telling them they have evidence they actually don’t have. They promise youth that they “just want to help” and cannot do that unless the child or young adult is “honest” with them. In reality, what that interrogating officer wants is a confession. This type of interrogation, where cops make promises they don’t intend to keep and lie to children about the evidence against them, leads to false confessions. For youth under 18, 35% – 50% of their admissions are false.
You always have the right to hire an attorney
There is a strong push nationally (and a considerable push here in Michigan) to ensure no child stands in court without a lawyer. The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) set standards for adult indigent defense. All youth charged with a crime are presumed indigent (unable to afford an attorney) and are appointed counsel. Youth (or their parents) have the right to hire an attorney, too. Children in the youth justice system deserve competent counsel. The attorney should be well-versed in youth defense and not afraid to fight for your child.
How can a Holistic Attorney make a difference?
Criminal Defense, Neglect/Abuse, And Family Law Attorney
Through a holistic, non-judgemental approach, our team helps clients weigh different options to truly find the best solution forward. At MKG Legal, everyone is welcome, we are LGBTQ+ friendly, passionate about youth rights and defense, and we encourage each client to show up exactly how they are. Get in touch with us today.