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Supreme Court Rules that a 10-year-old can Waive Miranda Rights

Posted by Seth Chazin | Nov 09, 2015 | 0 Comments

A 10-year-old boy, Joseph H., allegedly shot and killed (CA Penal Code 187)  his father while the man was sleeping on the couch. In another outrageous ruling, the California Supreme Court decided against reviewing the conviction of the Riverside County boy, letting stand a ruling that said someone that young can knowingly waive their legal right to remain silent.

The boy's father was allegedly a drug addict and had physically abused the boy and his mother several times, as well as threatened to burn down the house with the family inside. The court, voted 4 to 3 against hearing the case.

Records show that Joseph suffered from attention deficit disorder, was below average intelligence, and had been exposed to many illegal drugs when his mother was pregnant with him

The court had to decide on the issue of whether Joseph knowingly waived his Miranda rights when he confessed to police of the murder. Two lower courts upheld the waiver.

Joseph was one of 613 California children under the age of 12 who were arrested for felonies in 2011. California courts usually decide that minors who are 15 years and older are capable of waiving their rights. There has been one instance where a California court upheld a waiver by a 12-year-old. Joseph is the first in which a 10-year-old has had a waiver upheld.

Joseph was found guilty of second-degree murder for shooting Jeff Hall, his father and a West Coast leader of a neo-Nazi organization. The boy was sentenced to a maximum of 40 years to life, but because of his age he must be released when he turns 23.

This case shows how the issues surrounding Miranda rights of young children are controversial. How young is too young for children to knowingly waive their rights? The Supreme Court has failed to deal with this rationally. Children must be protected, A 10 year-old is never able to knowingly and voluntarily waive their Miranda rights.

About the Author

Seth Chazin

Seth P. Chazin has aggressively defended clients in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases for over 30 years. He has extensive experience representing criminal defendants in federal and state court, while handling both state and federal appeals as well.


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“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson