By: Wadad Barakat, Senior Articles Editor, J.D. Candidate, May 2019, St. Thomas University School of Law.

Abstract 

Currently, police officers are required to inform suspects in custody of their Miranda rights.  These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel, and that anything they say can be used against them.  Because the language of Miranda can be complex for minors, individuals under the age of eighteen-years-old do not fully understand it due to lack of the adequate cognitive and mental abilities that adults have.  Therefore, to alleviate this issue, a new policy obligating police officers to fully explain the Miranda warnings to juveniles should be applied.  The language of Miranda warnings and how it is read to juveniles creates confusion to them, thus it portrays a complex understanding of what the Miranda language really is.   

This Comment addresses the negative implications of juveniles who waive their Miranda rights due to lack of knowledge, fear, and lack of cognitive capabilities.  Miranda is expected to balance public safety with individual rights.  Nonetheless, no balance is being achieved for juveniles the way the Miranda language stands.  It is critical to implement a viable solution that allows juveniles to comprehend the words in the Miranda warnings in order for them to engage in fair decision-making and to prevent them from self-incrimination in criminal proceedings.  As a result, because individuals younger than eighteen-years-old do not have the same cognitive abilities and mental skills that adults have, they lack the capacity to fully comprehend the meaning of the Miranda warnings.  Therefore, a new policy obligating police officers to further explain the meaning of the language is necessary.  This proposed policy would avoid coercive interrogations, which would further avoid minors giving false confessions due to their lack of knowledge and/or lack of comprehension of their constitutional rights.