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What are the rules for juvenile statements or confessions?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | Juvenile Defense

For Texas parents and their kids, a juvenile arrest will be a fearful and worrisome time. This is true regardless of the alleged crime they committed. Whether it is something related to violence, theft, driving under the influence, drugs or any other accusation, there are protections in place that are specifically there for people under 18.

When a parent is informed that their child has been arrested and either made a statement or confessed, the entire case could hinge on the basics of that act. Law enforcement is required to follow certain rules when a juvenile gives a statement or makes a confession. In addition to looking at the charges themselves, parents, guardians and legal representatives need to scrutinize whether the rules were adhered to as this could be key with lodging a defense.

Know the provisions for juveniles giving statements or confessions

Based on the state Family Code, juveniles have specific protections if they are taken into custody. From the start, they must immediately be brought to a juvenile processing office. When the juvenile is taken into custody, the person doing so must give prompt notice of their action and say why it is being done. They must inform the parent, guardian or custodian; an official who was named by the juvenile board or the office itself; and if the child is a ward, probate court must be informed.

If the juvenile gives a written statement or confession, they must be told by a magistrate that they have the right to remain silent and do not need to make a statement if they choose not to. They must also be told it can be used as evidence in the case. They must be informed that they are within their rights to have an attorney or have one appointed for them. They must also tell them they have the right to stop the interview whenever they choose to.

This might sound reasonably simply since the “right to remain silent” is so prominent in entertainment programs and reality television, but a juvenile could be confused as to its ramifications if they are arrested and make a statement.

The magistrate must be certain that if the child makes a statement, they are waiving their rights voluntarily. Once this is accepted and the magistrate is satisfied that the juvenile has willingly waived their rights, they will return to the processing office where they will give their confession. Before signing it, they will again be brought before the magistrate. It will be signed with just the juvenile and the magistrate present.

The magistrate must believe the juvenile understands what they are signing and they are doing it of their own free will. They will then certify that the juvenile is completely aware of the statement and how it will impact them.

Juveniles need to be protected through every step with qualified help

Juvenile offenses are treated differently than adult offenses because the state wants to protect those who are not old enough to be charged under the adult laws and give them a chance to redeem themselves without long-term consequences. Still, people who have a criminal act on their record could face a variety of penalties.

That could include incarceration, fines, being ordered to perform community service and more. This can hinder their attempts to get certain jobs, be admitted to school or enter the military. If the juvenile made an ill-advised statement or even confessed and law enforcement violated the rules that are in place specifically for juveniles, it could be a key part of a criminal defense.

To determine if the juvenile’s rights were violated or there are other reasons for which the case can be effectively fought, it is wise to have professional assistance. Consulting with professionals who have more than three decades of experience in a wide range of cases, provide personalized attention and have compassion can be a critical factor in a positive outcome for a juvenile criminal defense case.