Aggressive Criminal

The problem with police being allowed to lie to juvenile suspects

On Behalf of | Criminal Defense |

If you’ve watched even a few episodes of the Law & Order franchise, you’ve seen police lie to suspects to get them to confess or turn on a co-conspirator. While these and other TV shows are by no means documentaries, they have that part correct.

The U.S. Supreme Court has given law enforcement officers the right to lie to people whom they’re interrogating. They may tell them they have DNA or other evidence they don’t really have. They may tell them that the person with whom they arrested them is blaming the whole thing on them.

False confessions are more common

Typically, they do it to get them to admit to a criminal offense they’re pretty certain they’re guilty of. Most adults won’t confess to something they didn’t do unless the interrogation is coercive (which is illegal).

Juveniles, however, are more apt to make “false confessions” or to confess to a crime they were involved in. That’s why a few states are moving toward making it illegal for police to lie to juvenile suspects.

Texas is not among those states. The Texas justice system also considers young people to be “juveniles” only until they reach the age of 17. Then they’re considered adults.

What is “temporal discounting?”

Why are juveniles more susceptible to police deception? In part, as psychologists explain, it’s because their brains aren’t fully developed. They’re more likely to believe something an authority figure tells them, even if it couldn’t be true.

Psychologists also point to something called “temporal discounting.” It’s what makes kids focus on short-term rewards rather than long-term consequences. That’s why they’re more likely than adults to tell an officer what they want to hear to get the interrogation over with – whether they’re guilty or not.

If a juvenile is arrested, authorities are required to call a parent or legal guardian. However, it’s wise for all parents to make sure their kids know their rights in any encounter with law enforcement. They also need to be aware that everything an officer tells them may not be true. If your child is facing charges, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance as soon as possible to help protect their rights.