Generally speaking, juveniles must be afforded the same basic constitutional rights that adults have in criminal cases. However, juveniles do not always enjoy the same level of protection.

Constitutional Rights for Juveniles in Custody

Right to Remain Silent / Right Against Self-Incrimination
As a juvenile, you have the right to remain silent when being questioned by police under the Fifth Amendment. The Constitution, without regard to age, also guarantees that you cannot be required to testify in open court if by testifying, you would be incriminating yourself.

Right to Counsel
All juveniles are afforded their Sixth Amendment right to have counsel present at their hearings and present evidence on their behalf. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to be appointed counsel to represent your legal interests.

Right of Confrontation
Under the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to cross-examine witnesses that testify or give statements against you. The evidentiary rules are very much the same in juvenile court as in an adult criminal court. For example, out-of-court statements offered to prove something, known as hearsay, must satisfy an exception under the rules of evidence or will not be admitted in your case.

As a juvenile, you will also enjoy the following rights and other constitutional protections:

  • Right to a Speedy Trial
  • Right to Advanced Notice of the Charges against You
  • Right to the Presumption of Innocence / Burden on the State to Prove Allegations Against You
  • Right to Exclude Illegally Obtained Evidence

No Right to a Jury Trial

There is no constitutional right to a trial by jury of your peers in a juvenile case. Instead, the court or a judge will make fact-finding decisions, and he or she alone decides your guilt or innocence.

No Right to Bail

There is no constitutional right to bail for juveniles. That means it is entirely up to the court whether you can be held in custody until your trial. However, the judge may release you to your parents before the trial. It is very important that your lawyer makes the right arguments to keep you out of juvenile hall.

Contact Juvenile Criminal Attorneys

If you or a loved one has a child who’s been charged with a crime, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

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