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Juvenile Rights within the Criminal Justice System

Updated on November 29, 2014
But I'm just a kid
But I'm just a kid | Source

by Amber Maccione

Juvenile Rights

With working with juveniles, there was one reoccurring theme that I found: they did not know about their rights. They did not know they had the right to remain silent when an authority figure was questioning them. Other rights that some of my students and even their parents were unaware of were the rights when it came to search and seizure. It is really important that juveniles are aware of their rights along with their parents so that they are not taken advantage of and so that they also are protected from incriminating themselves.

The Fifth Amendment states that no one can “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself” (Bartollas 2011 p.105). This is where a person’s Miranda rights come in. The Miranda warning, which is to be told to a juvenile before thee police state to question them, states:

You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you

say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an

attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford

an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you

may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions, or make

any statements (Bartollas 2011 p. 105).

Most juveniles, in my experience, don’t know that they have the right to remain silent. Most feel intimidated by authority figures and feel pressured into talking. All juveniles need to realize that they do not have to talk and their parents should be notified and present before they are even questioned since they are minors (Bartollas 2011 p. 105). A lot of my students, if they had only known their right to remain silent and that whatever they said could and would be used against them in the court of law, would have never been put into the juvenile court system.


I had a student once who was arrested and put on probation because his mother let the police into the house when they did not have a search warrant. Although I know that the student had violated the law, I still think that the parent should have protected him more especially since she allowed him to do the crime in her home. He was growing marijuana plants. The only reason that he got arrested was because his mother allowed the police in. Another right is that you don’t have to allow police into your house if they do not have a warrant. Police need permission to come in and search when they don’t have a warrant (Bartolla 2011 p. 102). Because the mother gave them permission, they were able to get the evidence they needed to arrest her son.

But the rights behind search and seizure vary depending on the situation and the area that a juvenile is in. The one underlining rule though in every search is that there has to be a reason behind the search (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). The more private the area, such as in the home, the more protected the juvenile is. The streets would be where the juvenile is the least protected (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). In the streets, the police can stop a juvenile casually or for a specific reason. If done casually, the police can as questions but cannot search the youth. The juvenile also has the right to not answer the questions and the right to walk away at any point (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). If the police have stopped the juvenile for a specific reason though, they can terry search (pat the outside of the clothing down) the juvenile and only if they find something can they do a full search (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). When it comes to searching a juvenile’s car, there has to be a reason for them to pull them over. They can only search the car if they smell illegal things or see illegal things in the car. They cannot search the car just because the juvenile is acting nervous (Bartolla 2011 p. 102).

When a juvenile is searched at school, it is a whole other game. School officials are not held to the stipulation of having to have probable cause (1LawyerSource.com). Usually the school has had all students sign a waiver that states that all lockers, desks, personal belongings, and the student too can be subject to being searched. The paper is given to students at orientation and they must sign it in order to attend that school.

The thing that I always tried to ingrain into my students was for them to know their rights. Lawyer Sandra Simkins is just like me as she too wants all juveniles to know their rights so that they are protected. At the front of her book, she published a list of things that all parents and juveniles should know if the juvenile ever gets arrested. The first two things she put on her were 1) “Don’t ever allow the police to question a child without a lawyer present” and 2) “Don’t ever encourage a child to waive their right to a lawyer” (Simkns 2009 p. XIII). I think that is the best advice anyone can give. The most important thing to know is to remain silent and to wait for a parent and lawyer to get to your side. I think that when the law is known in regards to juveniles, it does a great job of protecting them.

References

1LawyerSource.com (2010). “Juvenile legal rights – the constitutional rights of juvenile offenders.” Retrieved from http://www.1lawyersource.com/law-blog/juvenile-legal-rights/

Bartollas, C. & Miller, S. (2011).Juvenile justice in america (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc.

Simkins, S. (2009). When kids get arrested: what every adult should know. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Copyright © 2012 http://ambercita04.hubpages.com/

I had a student once who was arrested and put on probation because his mother let the police into the house when they did not have a search warrant. Although I know that the student had violated the law, I still think that the parent should have protected him more especially since she allowed him to do the crime in her home. He was growing marijuana plants. The only reason that he got arrested was because his mother allowed the police in. Another right is that you don’t have to allow police into your house if they do not have a warrant. Police need permission to come in and search when they don’t have a warrant (Bartolla 2011 p. 102). Because the mother gave them permission, they were able to get the evidence they needed to arrest her son.

But the rights behind search and seizure vary depending on the situation and the area that a juvenile is in. The one underlining rule though in every search is that there has to be a reason behind the search (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). The more private the area, such as in the home, the more protected the juvenile is. The streets would be where the juvenile is the least protected (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). In the streets, the police can stop a juvenile casually or for a specific reason. If done casually, the police can as questions but cannot search the youth. The juvenile also has the right to not answer the questions and the right to walk away at any point (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). If the police have stopped the juvenile for a specific reason though, they can terry search (pat the outside of the clothing down) the juvenile and only if they find something can they do a full search (Bartolla 2011 p. 101). When it comes to searching a juvenile’s car, there has to be a reason for them to pull them over. They can only search the car if they smell illegal things or see illegal things in the car. They cannot search the car just because the juvenile is acting nervous (Bartolla 2011 p. 102).

When a juvenile is searched at school, it is a whole other game. School officials are not held to the stipulation of having to have probable cause (1LawyerSource.com). Usually the school has had all students sign a waiver that states that all lockers, desks, personal belongings, and the student too can be subject to being searched. The paper is given to students at orientation and they must sign it in order to attend that school.

The thing that I always tried to ingrain into my students was for them to know their rights. Lawyer Sandra Simkins is just like me as she too wants all juveniles to know their rights so that they are protected. At the front of her book, she published a list of things that all parents and juveniles should know if the juvenile ever gets arrested. The first two things she put on her were 1) “Don’t ever allow the police to question a child without a lawyer present” and 2) “Don’t ever encourage a child to waive their right to a lawyer” (Simkns 2009 p. XIII). I think that is the best advice anyone can give. The most important thing to know is to remain silent and to wait for a parent and lawyer to get to your side. I think that when the law is known in regards to juveniles, it does a great job of protecting them.

References

1LawyerSource.com (2010). “Juvenile legal rights – the constitutional rights of juvenile offenders.” Retrieved from http://www.1lawyersource.com/law-blog/juvenile-legal-rights/

Bartollas, C. & Miller, S. (2011).Juvenile justice in america (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, Inc.

Simkins, S. (2009). When kids get arrested: what every adult should know. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

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    • jose7polanco profile image

      Jose Misael Polanco 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hard to believe not so long ago juveniles as little as 8 were thrown in the same cell with older adults. Things have change a lot, specially after Nixon's administration.

      Have little knowledge of the juvenile system but i just hope it is doing good now and going forward.