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Kids Waive the Darndest Constitutional Rights: The Impact of J.D.B. v. North Carolina on Juvenile Interrogation

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 49 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2012 Pages: 1623-1667
Abigail Kay Kohlman
Date Published
45 pages
This article discusses the need for additional protections for juvenile suspects who have received a Miranda warning.
This article discusses the need for the doctrine of "parens patriae" to apply in police interrogations and pre-trial criminal proceedings in cases involving juveniles. The first part of the article presents a background on the use of Miranda with juveniles involved in the juvenile justice system and the inconsistent way that the U.S. Supreme Court has applied the finding that children are cognitively distinct from adults. The section briefly discusses the state of laws both before and after the use of Miranda with juvenile suspects. The second section of the article discusses in detail the U.S. Supreme Court's findings in J.D.B. v. North Carolina in which the Court considered whether a suspect's age should be a factor considered in the Miranda custody analysis. The Court found in this case that a child's age is a relevant factor in the Miranda custody analysis, and that consideration of a child's age differs from that for a child's mindset. The ruling was limited, however, and did not provide safeguards for juveniles' rights against self-incrimination during police interrogations. The third section of the article examines the susceptibility of children and how Miranda warnings are futile attempts at protecting children's right against self-incrimination because 1) police interrogations are inherently coercive; 2) children are uniquely susceptible to interrogation; and 3) children do not understand Miranda. The final section of the article presents a two-tiered system for police to use when questioning juvenile.