New Law Requires Presence of Legal Counsel During Interrogations of Minors

Naperville criminal defense attorneys, interrogations of minorsRecently, a bill introduced in January by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) was amended to further increase the rights of minors charged with committing a criminal offense. If passed, the new law would ensure that more youths are represented by counsel throughout the entire legal process.

Current Law

Under the current law, only minors under the age of 13 and who are suspected of committing a sex or murder offense, are required by law to be represented by legal counsel during an interrogation. Any statement offered by a minor who is under 13 years old and does not have counsel present during an interrogation while in police custody, will be deemed inadmissible as evidence in any subsequent juvenile court or criminal proceeding.

Senate Bill 2370

The new bill significantly increases the rights of youths to have legal counsel present while under interrogation. According to the new law, any minor under the age of 18 must have counsel present during any interrogation. Any statement given by a minor without counsel present will be inadmissible at court. Furthermore, minors are not permitted to waive a right to the assistance of counsel in their defense. Statements that may be found inadmissible include:

  • Oral statements;
  • Written statements; and
  • Statements made through sign language.

The presumption that such a statement, made by a minor during an interrogation when counsel was not present, is inadmissible in court can be overcome by a preponderance of the evidence. To overcome the presumption, a prosecutor must show that the statement:

  • Was provided voluntarily; and
  • Is reliable.

Whether or not these factors are satisfied requires a court to look at all relevant factors in each particular case.

Custodial Interrogation

Under the new law, a minor is guaranteed the right to counsel during the entire interrogation. A custodial interrogation is defined as any interrogation during which:

  • A reasonable individual in the minor’s position would consider himself or herself to be in custody; or
  • A question is asked that is likely to elicit an incriminating response.

A place of detention means any building or police station that is managed by a law enforcement agency, where offenders can be detained in connection with criminal charges.

Having a juvenile criminal record can make it difficult for a minor to obtain employment and housing and to take advantage of educational and military opportunities, even after a sentence has been completed. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that your child’s interests are protected. If your child has been arrested for or charged with a criminal offense, please contact the dedicated Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC to schedule a free consultation.