In Chicago, the government has pushed legal help for juveniles involved in murder cases. This means that whenever the police interrogate juveniles, a lawyer should be present. This includes the juveniles who are younger than 15 years of age and are involved in sex or murder offenses. Illinois lawmakers believe that this will diminish the cases of false confessions. This law was proposed only last year. Before, the state only necessitated legal representation for kids younger than 13 years of age in the cases of murder or sex. This was applicable even when the juveniles were not the criminal investigation targets.
Governor Rauner propagated justice for children when he signed SB2370 on August 22, 2016. Public Act 99-0882 came into effect on January 1, 2017. The new bill was sponsored by two Democratic legislators. They said that juveniles aged 14 and 15 years old should certainly get legal protection. The bill included the following stipulations.
- Videotaping is required by police officials in all the questioning sessions of youth under 18 years of age for any felony, sexual offense, or misdemeanor cases. The court will not permit the confession if it is not recorded on videotape.
- The age should be raised from 13 to 15 years for children that should be represented by their attorneys during custodial questioning for sex and homicide offenses.
- The children under the age of 18 years should be provided with an unvarying Miranda warning. This should be in a simplified and shorter version.
The director of training and technical assistance at the National Juvenile Defender Center, Tim Curry, said that a lot of children do not even know they can protect their rights by hiring an attorney. In most of the cases, Miranda rights are read to the child even when the child does not understand them. Additionally, it is also common that police officers violate the modus operandi and make use of ultimatums. This leads to the children pleading guilty and the case never going to trial. In fact, according to the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, only 1% Chicagoans, including adults and children, are represented by a lawyer during a custodial interrogation.
The Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer” demonstrated the case of juvenile interrogations. The protagonist, Brendan Dassey, does not have an attorney present at his questioning when the police ask about his role in the slaying of a woman in 2005. This documentary perfectly displays how kids are susceptible to false confessions when they are interrogated by the police.
Thus, the law was passed after the recent handling of some juvenile interrogation and holding cases came to light.
Another instance that has shed light on this issue came from one shocking videotape that showed a sheriff of St. Clair County berating a teen. He constantly told Trevon Yates, a 17-year-old, that he had evidence of the teen committing an armed theft. The black teen, who was mentally impaired, just said that he did not do this heinous crime. He prayed to God aloud and begged for his mother. The East St. Louis kid said that he did not rob anybody and swore to God on it. However, he was charged. He had to spend nine months in prison before the prosecutors dropped the charges after seeing the videotape.
Attorney for Juvenile Interrogations in Chicago
In order to safeguard your juvenile rights, it is advised that you hire a juvenile interrogation attorney. A lawyer can help a juvenile by defending a juvenile’s rights when he or she is probed for the case. This way, the child cannot be coerced into confessing something. Employing the services of a lawyer is an affordable, practical, and sensible step forward for juveniles. For expert legal advice on juvenile interrogations, you can contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at 312-560-7100.
(image courtesy of Tim Graf)