As a parent should I cooperate with the police and instruct my child to voluntarily waive his Miranda rights?

Submitted by New Jersey Juvenile Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

State v. D.N.

As a parent should I cooperate with the police and instruct my child to voluntarily waive his Miranda rights?   NO   NO   NO!!!!

In this case a child was charged with a criminal offense. The under age juvenile was taken to the police department and read his Miranda rights in the presence of mom as well. Thereafter mom refused in the presence of child and Police to allow them to continue to question the child. The police stopped their questioning and allowed mom and child to go home.  Several days later mom is at home and finds a weapon and money in a bag in the kitchen.   She calls the police and brings child down to the police department. They said in a room and the police again read Maranda warnings to the child and the mother’s presence. Thereafter child admits information about the weapon   only after being pushed and prodded by mother.

Once the child began to talk after his second Maranda warnings he admitted to the possession of the weapon and other crimes. The child’s defense attorney filed a motion to suppress to statements of the child arguing a) the police did not respect child’s assertion of his Miranda warnings and his mother’s involvement created a coercive environment that precluded the ‘voluntary waiver’ of his constitutional rights.

The appellate court reminded the reader that the trial judge’s decision shall be upheld so long as the trial judge’s findings are supported by credible evidence evidence in the record and the trial judge will only be reversed if the appeals court determines that trial judge is “so clearly mistaken that the interest of justice demand intervention”.

The appellate court’s key focus was the juveniles voluntariness and whether his ‘will’ was over born by police conduct; in this case employing the mom to obtain the Miranda waiver. In juvenile Miranda cases involving waiver of the ‘Right to Remain Silent” long standing case law looks to the suspects age, education, intelligence, advice regarding constitutional rights, length of the detension, whether the questioning was repeated and prolonged in nature, and whether physical punishment or mental exhaustion was involved. The court was so consider the suspects prior and counters with law-enforcement.

“Voluntariness” is part of the court overall determination of whether the confession was “knowing”, intelligent “, and “voluntary”. The involvement of a parents present in the confession is a highly significant factor to be given more weight one balanced against other factors. This was decided in the New Jersey Supreme Court decision of State in the interest of A.S., 203 NJ 131 (2010). In that case the New Jersey Supreme Court determined the parent is to serve as a buffer between the juvenile and the police and is to act in the best interest of the juvenile. However the parent is allowed to advise his child to cooperate with toys were to even confessed to the crime if the parent believe the child in fact committed the crime.  The court viewed the parents encouragement of a child to confess consistent with her right as a parent to celebrate advise her child.

This appeals court rejected the defendant’s assertion that his mothers encouragement creating coercion. The court believed the mother’s expressed concern for her own safety and the safety of her other two children as the basis for repeatedly encouraging her son to tell the detective and the lieutenant where he obtained the gun. The court also believed she was concerned that her son would get charged with something more serious.  The court viewed mothers behavior as “acting in her child’s best interest during the investigation”.

The court then when into an analysis of whether the defendant invocation of his Miranda rights were clear and unambiguous. The judge found the juvenile’s second invoking of his Miranda rights “not clear and unambiguous”, and as a result the police were allowed to continue to ask questions incorporating mother’s involvement to determine if he had or intended to cleary and unambiguously invoke his Maranda warnings.  Obviously, with mom’s help, the court ruled this juvenile did not clearly and unambiguously invoke his right to remain silent, and the mother was also used to enable an ‘knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver.   The child’s admission to the weapons offense and other crimes would not be barred from being admitted at the time of any future trial.


In other words, the police used and tricked the mother to have her child waive his Miranda rights, and not expressly and clearly invoke them as he had when arrested the first time.  It was at this very time, when the child did not know what to do that the police used the mother to get the admissions they were looking for!!!!

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

Leave a Comment