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Minors Under 16 Must Consult with Legal Counsel Before Waiving Miranda Rights

Your child is accused of breaking the law while at school. The police arrive and begin questioning your child. Using interrogation tactics, police coerce your child into confessing to a crime he or she did not actually commit.

How can this happen? Unfortunately, minors don’t have all the same rights as adults. However, a law that took effect on January 1, 2018 amended Welfare and Institutions Code Section 625.6 to give minors under 16 years old a chance to better understand the rights that they do have. The law hopes to curtail the amount of false confessions given by minors.

What are Miranda Rights?

In order to understand how Senate Bill 395 impacts Welfare and Institutions Code Section 625.6, you must first understand what Miranda rights are.

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You may have heard the phrase “you have the right to remain silent…” on TV or movies. This is the start of your Miranda rights.

Before members of law enforcement can question you if they suspect you of having broken a law, they must read you your Miranda rights. This warning explains some of your basic rights and other important information that you should know before speaking to police, such as:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say or do from that point could be used against you in a court of law
  • You have the right to have an attorney present before answering any questions

It is a common belief among people in law enforcement as well as criminal defense lawyers that minors under 16 years of age are not old enough to fully comprehend their legal rights. Due to this belief, the California legislature passed this new law to protect minors under age 16 when they are arrested.

California Law Requires Minors to Consult with Counsel Before Waiving Miranda Rights

Police are trained as to how to obtain admissions and confessions from persons they believe have committed crimes. They often trick suspects into making confessions to crimes that they did not commit. Police often offer assurances to suspects that they will not go to jail if they speak to the police officer about the allegations. Those in law enforcement will question suspects for hours in some cases.

The result of this police practice has lead to many “false confessions” being made by those in police custody. This new law is an effort to protect juveniles who are accused of a crime and are less than 16 years old when they speak to police officers.

Under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 625.6, minors ages 15 and under are required to consult with a criminal defense attorney before waiving their Miranda rights. Authorities must allow minors to consult with legal counsel in person, over the phone or by video conference before a custodial interrogation takes place and before the minor decides whether to waive his or her Miranda rights.

The law is only in effect until January 1, 2025. Senate Bill 395 requires that the governor of California put together a panel of seven experts by 2023 to study the effects of this law and provide their findings to the state legislature by April 1, 2024.

Was Your Child Arrested and Treated Unfairly? Call Wallin & Klarich Now

If you believe your child was coerced into making a false confession or treated unfairly by police, you need to act now. Speak to our experienced juvenile defense lawyers at Wallin & Klarich to find out how we may be able to help you.

Our skilled juvenile defense attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending minors accused of crimes. Let us help you and your family now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich juvenile defense attorney available near you no matter where you are located.

Call us now at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.