Legal Aid Society


LAS: Young New Yorkers Must Have Counsel Before Police Interrogations

The Legal Aid Society is calling on Albany to enact legislation that would protect young New Yorkers’ constitutional right to remain silent by providing them an attorney before a police interrogation, as reported by New York Focus.

The proposed law has support from a broad coalition including law enforcement; ten retired former New York State Judges; and more than 100 youth development, academic, faith-based, and advocacy organizations across New York State.

“This legislation would provide long-overdue protections for our vulnerable Black and Latinx clients,” said Dawne Mitchell, Chief Attorney of the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Young people are not able to fully comprehend their right to remain silent or the consequences of waiving that right.”

“They also are much more likely to falsely confess than adults,” she continued. “By requiring youth to consult with counsel before they can waive their Miranda rights, this bill would ensure that those without the means to hire a private attorney are not disadvantaged. The Legal Aid Society calls on Albany lawmakers to pass this legislation at once.”

Zachary Carter, current Chair of the Board of Directors at The Legal Aid Society, noted that “without appropriately enhanced protections, interrogations of children can have serious negative consequences including coerced, false and unreliable statements and confessions and consequent wrongful convictions, resulting in diminished public confidence in the legal system, and an erosion of public safety.”