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Proposed legislation could change how police interrogate minors

Police must read minors accused of crimes the same Miranda rights as adults. However, advocates say this requirement does not adequately protect the rights of minors facing criminal charges.

Proposed legislation could change how police interrogate minors.

What the proposed legislation would do

If the proposed legislation becomes law, police in New York would have to allow minors to talk to a lawyer before they can waive their rights to have an attorney present during questioning. The NYPD opposes this legislation, saying that the requirement to video-record police questioning of minors in a court-approved juvenile room adequately protects minors. They also claim that the decision to waive counsel should be up to parents, rather than lawyers.

Reasons for the proposed legislation

Advocates say that minors are not capable of understanding the consequences of waiving their rights and often their parents do not fully comprehend the consequences either. They believe legislation is necessary to prevent police from coercing false confessions from minors without a lawyer present.

Additionally, they claim that recording questioning does not protect minors from actions police take before they turn the cameras on, such as coercing and threatening minors and their parents to talk to the police without a lawyer. Research that demonstrates that minors are mainly focused on their immediate best interests and are more likely to follow orders from authority figures may support the need for legislative change.

Similar legislation passed the Assembly in 2021, but the Senate never voted on the measure. Advocates are hopeful that similar legislation that passed in other states may convince New York lawmakers to follow suit in 2023.