The inherently coercive nature of custodial interrogation is the very reason the Supreme Court handed down the famous Miranda v. Arizona decision; the court recognized the increased vulnerability that suspects under questioning are subjected to when placed in a situation designed to elicit incriminating information.1 Legal scholars and judiciaries alike agree that the likelihood of police questioning resulting in a false admission of guilt or self-incriminating statements is disproportionately more probable if the subject of the questioning is a minor.2 The constitutional protections that are afforded to juvenile suspects subjected to custodial interrogations are those set out in Miranda, and as evidenced by the rampant incidence of juvenile false confessions, clearly these protections are either facially insufficient or improperly carried out by investigators.3 As the law currently stands, there are few protections afforded above and beyond the standard protections for adult defendants as it relates to the voluntariness of confessions.4
The most common suggestions to reduce the chances that a juvenile suspect will falsely confess are to reform police procedure during the questioning itself or to suppress any statement resulting from involuntary, coerced, or un-Mirandized statements at subsequent proceedings.5 Adding a requirement that counsel be present during the custodial interrogation of juvenile suspects seems to be the most effective and efficient means of preventing false confessions. The most steadfast and all-encompassing protection is to propose a Constitutional Amendment. As the most difficult legislation to enact, it will ensure that the individual requirements are tempered to both proponents’ and opposers’ predilections and will most likely stand the test of time provided it is well-rounded and comprehensive enough.6
Regardless of what the first step is that the law takes to protect the especially vulnerable members of our society in the criminal justice system, it cannot come soon enough to extend a helping hand towards anyone that has the misfortune of being “an easy victim of the law.”7
"EASY VICTIMS OF THE LAW: Protecting the Constitutional Rights of Juvenile Suspects to Prevent False Confessions,"
Child and Family Law Journal: Vol. 11:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://lawpublications.barry.edu/cflj/vol11/iss1/4