There are certainly enough crime shows on television these days that nearly everyone in Little Rock should know what their rights are when they are arrested. Even if they don’t, police are supposed to inform arrestees of their rights when they are taken into police custody. When the Miranda rights are actually given, however, is largely up to the discretion of police, just as long as they are done before an interrogation.
For juveniles facing criminal charges, however, being told they have the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer may not be enough to prevent them from giving false confessions. These are children and, despite what they may be accused of, many of them are likely scared when dealing with police. Even if they are completely innocent, they may confess to something or unknowingly incriminate themselves, potentially setting themselves up for a conviction and years in prison.
A recent look at juvenile false confessions by The Wall Street Journal has found that teenagers sometimes don’t think about the long-term consequences of their actions, which can be disastrous during an interrogation with police. Some teens will admit to horrific crimes knowing that it will end the interrogation, but not thinking about what that admission will mean when it comes to defending their innocence in court.
Some police forces recognize that juvenile detainees may need extra protection during an interrogation, especially if they don’t take advantage of their rights to silence and an attorney. How police in Arkansas will handle this remains to be seen.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “False Confessions Dog Teens,” Zusha Elinson, Sept. 8. 2013