Taking Back Juvenile Confessions

Kevin Lapp

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

January 1, 2017

UCLA Law Review, Forthcoming
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-34

The limited capacity of juveniles to make good decisions on their own — based on centuries of common sense and empirically supported in recent decades by abundant scientific research — informs almost every field of legal doctrine. Recent criminal justice reforms have grounded enhanced protections for youth at punishment and as criminal suspects on their limited cognitive abilities and heightened vulnerability. One area of criminal procedure doctrine lags behind this legal, scientific, and social consensus. Despite historical recognition of the need for special protections for interrogated youth, current law regarding the waiver of the rights to silence and to counsel at interrogation predominantly treats juvenile suspects like adults. This underenforces their privilege against self-incrimination, disrespects their dignity, and raises the risk of wrongful convictions. This Article considers whether interrogation law should correct course by incorporating a rule akin to contract law’s centuries-old infancy doctrine and permit individuals to retract uncounseled Miranda waivers elicited by law enforcement while they were juveniles. The justifications, advantages, and drawbacks to such a doctrinal shift are explored.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 68

Keywords: juvenile, interrogation, Miranda, confession, waiver, contract, infancy doctrine, Fifth Amendment, criminal, juvenile justice, adolescence, brain development

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Date posted: August 14, 2016 ; Last revised: January 19, 2017

Suggested Citation

Lapp, Kevin, Taking Back Juvenile Confessions (January 1, 2017). UCLA Law Review, Forthcoming; Loyola Law School, Los Angeles Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2822551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2822551

Contact Information

Kevin Lapp (Contact Author)
Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )
919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-1165 (Phone)

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