Most everyone is aware of Miranda warnings from TV and movies. Since the 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona, these warnings have been used by law enforcement agencies to inform a person who is in custody of his or her Fifth Amendment rights. According to the Seattle Times, the conventional warning given by the King County Sheriff's department includes the following familiar language:
“1. You have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
3. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
4. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?
5. With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
While this warning may be clear to an adult, the sheriff's department is now modifying the statement in when it is given to juvenile offenders in order to try and help them better understand their rights. The modified warning that the department will be giving to juveniles is as follows:
“1. You have the right to remain silent, which means that you don't have to say anything.
2. It's OK if you don't want to talk to me.
3. If you do want to talk to me, I can tell the juvenile court judge or adult court judge and probation officer what you tell me.
4. You have the right to talk to a free lawyer right now. That free lawyer works for you and is available at any time – even late at night. That lawyer does not tell anyone what you tell them. That free lawyer helps you decide if it's a good idea to answer questions. That free lawyer can be with you if you want to talk with me.
5. If you start to answer my questions, you can change your mind and stop at any time. I won't ask you any more questions.
1. Do you understand? (If yes, then continue to number 2)
2. Do you want to have a lawyer? (If no, then continue to number 3)
3. Do you want to talk with me? (If yes, then proceed with questioning)”
According to the Seattle Times, this new warning was developed in partnership with the King County Department of Public Defense and a nonprofit organization, Creative Justice. The Times reported that research has shown that teenagers have not fully developed “their judgment, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities.” In addition, studies have found that “adolescents . . . are more likely than adults to waive their Miranda rights and are vulnerable to going along with police when they ask teens if they want to talk.”
It will be interesting to see what impact the implementation of these new warnings for youthful offenders will have. Perhaps, in the future, more jurisdictions will follow King County's example and will begin to use a similar warning when dealing with juveniles.