Questioning a Juvenile in Custody
The questioning of juvenile suspects raises legal issues which
a bearing on the admissibility of any confession made by a juvenile
- Voluntariness of Confession. A juvenile
has both a
right to counsel and a privilege against self-incrimination in
delinquency proceedings. In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 32-55
juvenile may waive his Fifth Amendment rights and consent to
Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707 (1979).
- The question of whether a waiver is voluntary and knowing is
one to be
resolved on the totality of the circumstances surrounding the
court must determine not only that the statements were not coerced
but also that they were not the products of "ignorance of rights or
fantasy, fright, or despair." In re Gault, 387 U.S. at 55.
factors to be considered are the juvenile's age, experience,
background, and intelligence, and whether he has the capacity to
warnings given to him, the nature of his Fifth Amendment rights,
consequences of waiving them. Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S.
at 725. For
applications of the totality of the circumstances approach
see United States v. White Bear, 668 F.2d 409 (8th
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 given even closer scrutiny
by adults, Miranda warnings are probably an essential threshold
voluntariness. The presence and cosignature of a parent or
guardian is not
required for a voluntary waiver, although it is a factor to be
will help dispel any notion that the juvenile was coerced.
- Prompt Presentment.In addition to voluntariness, the
also considered the statutory requirement of prompt presentment in
with the admissibility of confessions. Title 18 U.S.C. § 5033
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
brought before a magistrate.
- Apparently by analogy to the McNabb/Mallory rule for adults,
have held inadmissible confessions obtained during a delay in
violation of this provision. In deciding when this provision has
some courts have focused on the "forthwith" language and others on
"reasonable period of time" language. See United States
620 F. Supp. 1439, 1443 (S.D.N.Y. 1985); United States v.
Smith, 574 F.2d
707, 710 (2d Cir. 1978); United States v. Indian Boy, 565
F.2d 585, 591
(9th Cir. 1978). Because of the varying approaches to this issue,
essential to consult the law of the circuit.
[cited in USAM 9-8.140]