Among the many misconceptions about law enforcement is the belief that police cannot lie to criminal suspects. Some people believe that police have to identify themselves as law enforcement or cannot use falsities to obtain information or confessions. This is not true. Police can and do lie to suspects in order to gather information about suspected criminal activity. However, a new law in Illinois will soon change this for minors accused of crimes.
Police Must Follow Certain Rules When Questioning a Minor
The American justice system has long acknowledged that children and teenagers do not have the same level of understanding and awareness as adults. Juvenile criminal justice is typically focused on rehabilitating offenders rather than punishing them. However, until recently, police could use the same deceptive interrogation tactics on minors as they could adults. For example, police could claim to have proof of the suspect’s presence at a crime scene even if no such proof existed. They could also claim that witnesses had identified the suspect even if there were no witnesses making such a claim. As of January 1, 2022, these types of police tactics are prohibited in any police interrogation involving a minor.
Minors are thought to be especially susceptible to deceptive interrogation techniques. In fact, those under 18 years old are two to three times more likely to admit to a crime they did not actually commit. Supporters of the new legislation hope that the bill will reduce the rate of false confessions and wrongful convictions.
Legal Rights of Minors Accused of Crimes
Individuals under age 18 have the same rights as adults if they are accused of a crime. They have the right to remain silent and not answer police questions. They also have the right to consult with an attorney and have an attorney present during any interrogations....