Teen Rights

Teens tend to have a misunderstanding of their rights when stopped by the police. First of all the Fourth Amendment requires that the police have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed before stopping a suspect. When stopped by the police, adults and teens alike have the right to remain silent. This right is the most important because it prevents you from saying anything that may incriminate yourself. The 4th amendment protects people from being searched or having their property taken away from them without any good reason. A police officer must have a warrant to search and seize your property. This ties into the right to remain silent because if you don’t give your consent a police officer must get a warrant. With this in mind, police do have the right to frisk you if they suspect a person is armed and dangerous.  If you unfortunately are arrested you still have rights. No one can be put on trial for a very serious crime, unless a grand jury decides first that there is enough evidence so that the trial is needed. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence there will be a trail. In the supreme court case Gideon v. Wainwright (1962), Gideon was accused of committing a felony and he petitioned the judge to provide him with an attorney free of charge. The judge denied Gideon’s request. The supreme court ruled that indigent defendants must be provided representation without charge. It’s also good to know that the government does not have the power to make someone testify against himself. In the case of Mapp v. Ohio (1961), police searched Mapp’s house and found evidence. Mapp argued that the police did not get a warrant so the evidence should be suppressed. The supreme court ruled that any illegally obtained evidence could not be used in court. The supreme court applied the exclusionary rule which states that evidence collected in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights is sometimes inadmissible for a criminal prosecution in a court of law. The case of Kent v. United States (1966) was about Morris Kent, 16,  who had been on probation for burglary and theft, got arrested and charged with three counts of home burglaries, three counts robberies, and two counts of rape. Due to the seriousness of these crimes the prosecutor wanted Kent’s case to be tried in adult court. Without a hearing, the judge sided with the prosecutor and sent Morris to adult court, where he was found guilty and sentenced to 30 to 90 years in prison. Kent argued that the case should have stayed in juvenile court. The supreme court ruled that juvenile can be tried and punished as an adult. The judge's decision must weigh the factors, which include the seriousness of the crime; the juvenile's age; and the defendant's criminal background and mental state. If you are tried and the trial ends, the case cannot be tried again.  As an American citizen it is your right and obligation to uphold the laws of the land.

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Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 5:32 PM, 10.12.2015