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Maryland’s Childhood Interrogation Protection Act for Juveniles 

 This year, a new law was passed by the Maryland General Assembly that now requires law enforcement to notify a parent or legal custodian if their child is taken into custody or being charged with a criminal violation. In addition to this, the law enforcement officer also requires that the child consults with an attorney prior to interrogation. This is extremely important because it has recently become very common for children and teenagers to be coerced into wrongly confessing to a crime. They are sometimes tricked or don’t even understand what is happening, so they don’t know any better than to agree to what law enforcement tells them. 

This is exactly what happened to Tracey Akins, a 15-year-old living in Edgewood, Maryland. Tracey spent a day innocently watching tv at his friend’s girlfriend’s house when they suddenly heard loud banging and yelling at the door. Out of fear, the friends exited through the window to escape. 

A couple of days later the police came to Tracey’s house and asked his mother if they could take him to the station to talk. Tracey’s mother permitted their request. He subsequently spent hours at the station and was never read his rights or asked if he wanted his mother or a lawyer. They began questioning him about the incident at his friend’s girlfriend’s house and was told if he wanted to go home, he must take a lie detector test. Without fully understanding, he agreed to take the test so he could go home. The questioning took hours.

Shockingly, a couple of months later, Tracey was charged with rape. Thankfully, Tracey was found not guilty by a jury and even though he did not have to spend time in jail he does have to live with the trauma for the rest of his life.

To this day interrogations like these still happen and many individuals aren’t as lucky as Tracey. In countless cases, children waive their Miranda rights without knowing the meaning of what they are signing. They may even confess to a crime or agree to what an officer is saying because they are left alone hungry, scared or tired. It has been proven in an evaluation of 329 exonerated cases that 44% of juveniles falsely confessed, compared to 13% of adults. That study alone shows how officers take advantage of the most vulnerable people in the state, the children. This law will improve our juvenile justice system and make sure that our children understand what is happening to them and what is before them concerning the criminal process.

If your child or teenage was a victim of interrogation please contact our office immediately to ensure your child gets the representation they deserve.