The New York Times recently reported that an estimated 37% of teenagers that went through an interrogation falsely confessed to criminal acts. It further reported that 31% of teenagers during those interrogations made incriminating statements against themselves. One thing was shocking about this study, none of the teenagers involved in the research invoked their constitutional rights, therefore all went through an interrogation without an attorney and none chose to remain silent. During these interrogations, it was not even clear if the teenagers going through the interrogation understood their rights completely as afforded to them by the Constitution.
The case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), sets forth the standard for what are commonly known as Miranda warnings. Miranda warnings are required to be given before a suspect is taken into police custody and interrogated. These warnings include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. These rights may be waived and an interrogation may proceed after the waiver, but what most people do not realize is that after this point, anything a person says may be used as evidence against that person in a court of law and often times leads to self-incrimination. To have proper waiver of Miranda warnings, a waiver must be knowing, intelligent and voluntary.
The research done in this study is important because of the amount of teenagers arrested in the last several years has increased. In 2011, about 1.5 million teenagers were arrested for crimes. In the following and more recent years, federal agencies have not released any new numbers. However, with a trend of increase in past years it is easy to assume that the number of teenagers arrested has again rose. It is apparent from this study that teenagers are not being properly informed or taught about the rights they have when facing interrogation for possible criminal charges, which is a problem.
With increasing arrests arising from things that happen in and outside of schools, such as the sexting scandal out of Oakland County, or bringing weapons to school, more and more teenagers find themselves in custody. Therefore, it is imperative that teenagers know of their rights and understand them. The most important right that anyone, not just teenagers, needs to invoke is the right to an attorney. Teenagers need to understand that they need to invoke their right to have an attorney present because in most cases that go to trial, false confessions or incriminating statements are extremely persuasive to juries.
It is very important for teenagers to understand their rights before entering an interrogation room, especially if the teenager is there for questioning about a sex crime. The Law Offices of Shannon M. Smith handles all sex crimes, especially criminal sexual conduct, in Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Macomb counties. Our office has high experience in cases involving teenagers. If you are facing allegations of committing a sex crime, contact our office to set up a consultation.