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50. Statements Taken From Juveniles

A juvenile's waiver of Miranda rights will be suspect if given without the advice of a parent or adult guardian. A juvenile has both a right to counsel, In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 32-42 (1979), and a privilege against self-incrimination, Id. at 42-55, in juvenile delinquency proceedings. A juvenile may waive his or her Fifth Amendment rights and consent to interrogation. Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707 (1979). The determination whether a juvenile's waiver is voluntary and knowing is one to be resolved on the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation. Id. The court must determine not only that the statements were not coerced or suggested, but also that they were not the products of ignorance of rights or of adolescent fantasy, fright, or despair. In re Gault, 387 U.S. at 55. Among the factors which are considered are the juvenile's age, experience, education, background, and intelligence, whether he has the capacity to understand the warning given to him, the nature of his Fifth Amendment rights, and the consequences of waiving them. Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. at 725. For applications of the totality of the circumstances approach for juveniles, see United States v. White Bear, 668 F.2d 409 (8th Cir. 1982); United States v. Palmer, 604 F.2d 64 (10th Cir. 1979); West v. United States, 399 F.2d 467 (5th Cir. 1968).

Since confessions by juveniles are subject to closer scrutiny than those of adults, Miranda warnings are probably an essential threshold requirement for voluntariness. The presence of a parent or guardian is not required for a voluntary waiver, although it is a factor to be considered. At least one court has found a waiver prior to notification to the parents or guardian of the juvenile to be invalId. See United States v. Nash, 620 F. Supp. 1439, 1443 (S.D.N.Y. 1985).

In addition to voluntariness, the courts also have considered the statutory requirement of prompt presentment in connection with the admissibility of confessions. Title 18 U.S.C. § 5033 provides, in pertinent part:

The juvenile shall be taken before a magistrate forthwith. In no event shall the juvenile be detained for longer than a reasonable period of time before being brought before a magistrate.

Apparently by analogy to the McNabb/Mallory rule for adults, some courts have held inadmissible confessions obtained during a delay in presentment in violation of this provision. In deciding when this provision has been violated, some courts have focused on the "forthwith" language and others on the "reasonable period of time" language. One district court has read the statutory language as a literal requirement that, when there is a magistrate available, the juvenile be taken there immediately. United States v. Nash, 620 F. Supp. 1439, 1443 (S.D.N.Y. 1985). On this basis, the court held unreasonable a delay between a 10:15 a.m. arrest and arrival at the magistrate at 5:15 p.m. for a 7:00 p.m. presentment, during part of which the defendant was interviewed at the FBI office. Id. at 1444.

On the other hand, the Second Circuit held a delay between a 10:15 a.m. arrest and a 3:00 p.m. presentment to be reasonable under the circumstances, where the period included an interview with the Assistant United States Attorney, in part because there was a valid investigatory purpose to the interview. United States v. Smith, 574 F.2d 707, 710 (2d Cir. 1978). The Ninth Circuit has held that a valid waiver of Miranda rights also constitutes a waiver of prompt presentment rights. United States v. Indian Boy X, 565 F.2d 585, 591 (9th Cir. 1978). Because of the varying approaches to this issue, it is essential to consult the law of your circuit.

Statements by a juvenile at and in connection with a transfer hearing may not be used against him or her. Smith, supra at 711; United States v. Spruillle, 544 F.2d 303 (7th Cir. 1976).

[cited in Criminal Resource Manual 48]

Updated May 19, 2015