New Washington law requires minors have access to attorney before police interrogation

Written By: Reid
Jan 05, 2022

New Washington law requires minors have access to attorney before police interrogation

by Angela Kerndl. (KOMONEWS, Washington))

Tuesday, January 4th 2022

YAKIMA -- A new law now in effect in Washington makes it so juveniles must first be given access to an attorney before being questioned by police.

This could have a profound impact in Yakima, where many teens and young juveniles have been suspects in shootings and murders.

Local law enforcement have expressed frustration saying the new law may make it much more difficult to solve and prosecute cases, including ones related to gang violence.

Yakima County prosecutor Joe Brusic says when those kids talk with an attorney, that attorney will almost certainly tell the juvenile not to talk with police.

Before the new year, juveniles were treated similarly to adults when brought into custody - they were read their rights and they themselves would decide if they want to make a statement or give a confession to officers.

"I think this is most definitely going to affect our ability to investigate and prosecute some of these juveniles that otherwise would have made a statement after miranda was read," says Brusic. "I think it's going to affect the evidence that we gather. I think it's going to affect our ability going forward on some of these cases."

Officers are also now required to record all questioning they have with children. Brusic says this has already been common practice locally.

But he says, if a juvenile were to confess to having committed a crime, and that confession was not recorded, it would most likely be considered inadmissible.

Those who pushed for the measure say House Bill 1140 better protects teens' constitutional rights, who may be more likely to waive their rights if intimidated by police.