Can the prosecution use statements made to a juvenile detention hall employee in court?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 20, 2012

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A juvenile is not guaranteed confidentiality if he or she talks to a juvenile hall employee or a juvenile probation officer. There may be an exception if the juvenile spoke to a mental health counselor in a juvenile hall or juvenile probation office.

The counselor may be a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. The mental health counselor must be a person who, by law, is required to keep a patient’s statements confidential. There are exceptions to a mental health counselor’s requirement to keep patient statements confidential. The exceptions vary between states.

A statement by another person about what you said before coming to court is called “hearsay.” Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In a juvenile delinquency case, the matter asserted is the prosecutor’s allegation that you committed a delinquent act. Hearsay rules fall into the category of rules regarding evidence.

Many states have the same hearsay rules for juvenile delinquency court and adult criminal court. In some states, the hearsay rules for juvenile delinquency court differ from those for adult criminal court. Consider speaking to an experienced juvenile delinquency defense attorney regarding hearsay rules for juvenile delinquency court.

If you are a juvenile but your case is being heard in adult criminal court, your case is governed by the rules of adult criminal court. In this situation, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

Hearsay evidence is generally inadmissible. The reasoning behind this is that hearsay tends to be unreliable. There are exceptions to the hearsay rule. These vary between states. Federal courts have their own interpretations of and exceptions to the hearsay rules. 

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