Can a prosecutor use statements against a juvenile if there was no miranda warning?
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UPDATED: Nov 14, 2011
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Juveniles, generally defined as young people between the ages of 10 and 17, are entitled to Miranda warnings in juvenile delinquency cases. Prosecutors cannot ask the court to admit evidence which includes statements made by a juvenile in custody if the juvenile was not read Miranda warnings (also “Miranda rights”).
Law enforcement officers are required to make a good faith obligation to locate a juvenile’s parents or guardian before questioning them. A juvenile can waive their Miranda warnings and answer questions from a law enforcement officer. If the waiver was not voluntary, the juvenile’s statements may not be admitted against them in court. If a juvenile requests an attorney or states that they want to remain silent, law enforcement officers are not allowed to continue questioning them.
If a juvenile volunteers statements to a law enforcement officer without being read Miranda warnings, a prosecutor can use these statements. In addition, if a law enforcement officer asks general questions to determine what is going on at the scene, and a juvenile responds without being read Miranda warnings, the juvenile’s statements can be used against him.
School employees such as teachers and principals are not required to read a juvenile Miranda warnings, as long as the employee is not acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer. If a law enforcement officer directs a school employee to ask a juvenile questions, any statements by the juvenile may not be admissible in court. School employees are not authorized to read juvenile Miranda warnings.
If a juvenile allegedly makes incriminating statements and another person is called as a witness to repeat them, the juvenile’s statements may be inadmissible because of the hearsay rules of the court.
The procedures and findings for juvenile delinquency court differ from those of adult criminal court. Many of the evidence rules regarding the admissibility of witness testimony remain the same. States’ rules regarding evidence in cases involving juveniles vary considerably, regardless of whether Miranda warnings were read or not.