California state senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) introduced Senate Bill 569 requiring videotaping interrogations during this year’s legislative session. The bill was later unanimously approved by the California Senate. On the last day of his legislative calendar, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 569 into law. The bill requires the interrogations of underage suspects in homicide cases to be videotaped.
Advantages to Videotaping Interrogations of Underage Suspects in Homicide Cases
The bill is intended to protect against false confessions by minors in homicide cases. In support of the bill, Senator Lieu stated that, “one of the worst evils a government can perpetrate is to wrongfully convict an innocent person.” With research indicating that false confessions by minors led to an increase in wrongful convictions, many supporters believe this bill will prevent the incarceration of innocent minors. Bill supporters argue that minors are often vulnerable because “they are more likely to act on impulse, without fully considering the consequences.” There is a concern that certain interrogation tactics prey upon the vulnerability of innocent minors. This measure was intended to protect the rights of these innocent minors.
In addition, the new law should improve the credibility and reliability of confessions. Using videotaping to ensure accuracy, parties to a case will now have a clear record of the suspect’s statements. Videotaping the interrogation allows the court to conduct a better review of all the evidence.
Other bill supporters argue that this law will also increase public confidence in our criminal justice system. The videotaped interrogation will allow other parties to review police conduct and determine exactly how a suspect was treated by law enforcement officials.
Disadvantages to Videotaping Interrogations of Underage Suspects in Homicide Cases
On the other hand, opponents of the bill argue that the legislation overreaches and adds “unnecessary restrictions on officers conducting these interrogations.” There are concerns that the legislation’s language is too rigid and cumbersome. Determining whether an exception to the videotaping requirement applies in a particular case can also delay court proceedings. Opponents argue that these additional requirements will diminish the effectiveness and efficiency of the criminal justice system. Organizations opposing the new law include the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) and the Juvenile Court Judges of California.
Do you think Gov. Brown made the right decision requiring interrogations of underage suspects in homicide cases to be videotaped? Please let us know what you think about this important issue?
How Can Wallin & Klarich Help You?
If you have a question about this change in the law or any other legal matters, call Wallin & Klarich today. If you or a loved one is suspect in an ongoing investigation, you need to contact our offices immediately. The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been vigorously representing clients throughout every stage of the criminal process for over 30 years and we would like to help you with your case.
Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance and Sherman Oaks. Give us a call today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We’ll get through this together.