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What juvenile suspects should know when speaking to law enforcement in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2022 | Criminal law

Police officers in New Jersey often use coercive interrogation tactics to get suspects to confess to crimes. This is a dangerous practice, especially when the suspect is a juvenile. This article discusses how this could affect minors and provides some tips you can use to protect your child(ren).

Police deception in New Jersey

As surprising as it may seem, it is legal for police officers in New Jersey to lie to a suspect to pressure him or her into confessing to a crime. The state prohibits police officers from using physical force during interrogation but allows for most other psychological ploys, including lying.

For example, a police officer can tell a minor that his or her friends, a parent or anyone who’s close to him or her already made a statement that they saw the suspect committing a crime. An officer may also tell a juvenile that he or she will get a reduced sentence or probation if he or she confesses. Even if the minor was innocent, he or she would rather take probation than suffer through the entire trial process. Thus, the juvenile will confess to the crime.

Why are minors more vulnerable to deceptive police tactics?

A recent study found that teenagers don’t regulate their impulses as much as adults do and have a greater inclination to risky behavior. So if a police officer lies to them with an offer of a good deal, they will be more inclined to take it. Additionally, minors may not know much about the law works in New Jersey.

What can you do to stop this from happening?

Firstly, if you are a juvenile or a parent with a minor in custody, ensure that you understand your rights as a citizen or a New Jersey resident. You have the right to remain silent and ask for a juvenile defense attorney. Don’t say or do anything before you talk to a lawyer.

Secondly, understand that police can lie, intimidate or threaten your child to get a confession. So even if their deal sounds like the best way out of a bad situation, don’t take it or be fooled. Besides, a minor cannot sign a valid contract in New Jersey.

Unfortunately, the very people that children should trust can lie to them without consequences. If you are a minor, ensure this doesn’t happen to you regardless of your situation.