The Michigan criminal justice system thrives on confessions. And all too often, innocent children confess to crimes they didn’t commit, falsely believing it will help them get back to their loved ones. Teaching your children about Miranda rights can help them steer clear of challenging legal encounters.
What are Miranda rights?
Miranda rights take their name from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miranda vs. Arizona that stated police officers must tell those under arrest of their rights while in custody.
Today, all states must inform people in police custody of their rights, including children, known as juvenile offenders in the criminal justice system. However, police officers’ wording to convey these rights varies from each state and can be confusing.
The problem with Miranda rights
Arrested children rarely understand their criminal law rights. Several studies have shown that many arrested children suffer from emotional trauma and, on average, can only remember about 30 percent of their rights after having just heard them. Moreover, many of these children struggle with mental health conditions or developmental delays.
To please authority figures, children will often tell the police what they want to hear, even if it is not true, so that they can go home to their families. This puts children in a precarious legal situation and often means they suffer legal consequences for actions they either had no part in or confessed to without understanding they had a right to refuse to speak to the police.
How to protect your children
It is best to have a conversation with your children to ensure they understand their rights. Ensure they know to be respectful of police and limit what they say in their presence.
You should inform your children that if arrested or detained by a police officer, they should immediately request a criminal law attorney. This might help prevent your child from being in a dangerous situation.
Knowing your rights is the first part of being an engaged citizen. Keeping yourself and your children informed of your rights while under arrest can help promote a better legal system outcome.