Youth Rights: Four Reminders Before Speaking With Law Enforcement

Youth Rights

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. 


Four Reminders

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?

A Holistic Attorney approaches each case by taking note of individual facts and extenuating circumstances. This approach acknowledges that each case has interconnected moving parts that can only make sense when reviewed together as a whole.
My holistic approach to law practice means that when someone walks through my door for a specific reason, I recognize that this is not the only defining component of their life. Life is not black and white. It is complex, with different stories, experiences, and nuances. No matter the case (divorce, criminal, etc.), you are so much more than the reason you need an attorney. I aim to meet you where you are, considering both case facts and who you are as an individual, to find the best solution for you. Often whatever brings a person to my office is a symptom of a more significant challenge in her life. Or conversely, cases create other needs or challenges. These needs include mental health, housing, employment, or addiction support. Read more about my approach to being a Holistic Attorney here


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.