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Critical moment for juveniles: when Miranda rights are read

We passionately and aggressively represent both adults and juveniles in criminal law matters at the defense law firm of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry in St. Louis, and readily distinguish between them in a fundamental way.

So too do most people, of course, knowing adolescents lack the same degree of judgment and life experience that adults understandably possess. We note on our website that, “A big part of growing up is about trial and error and learning from those experiences.”

A time when it is decidedly unwise for a minor to err and make a mistake in judgment is when he or she is in criminal custody. Law enforcers are often anxious at that juncture to conduct an interrogation that could lead to incriminating statements and related dire results.

In-custody exchanges between criminal suspects and police officers are often highly stressful and confusing affairs for the former. That can be particularly true for juveniles, who can easily become overwhelmed by the process.

Here’s some evidence of that, as reported by a recent Bloomberg article: Empirical data show that “juveniles are especially susceptible to making false confessions” when in custody. Many of them seem to quickly trust or rely on criminal investigators when there is no rational reason to do so. And it flatly stunning that only about 10% of all juveniles apparently opt to exercise their Miranda rights and secure a lawyer instead of conversing freely with investigators.

Bloomberg’s editorial board is strongly critical of such outcomes, and rightly so. The publication calls for simpler warning language to be uniformly used that clearly informs minors in custody that they have an automatic right to immediately consult with an attorney.

The editorial team stresses that confronting an adolescent offender with confusing language and then questioning that individual without legal counsel present is “a recipe for injustice.”

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Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

120 South Central Avenue
Suite 130
Saint Louis, MO 63105

Phone: 314-499-1424
Fax: 314-862-8050
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