Letter to the Editor: Youth Interrogation Law Exists Because Police Refuse to Act Voluntarily


I write to discuss the recent Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs “legislative priorities” regarding RCW 13.40.740, which forces police to protect minors’ fourth, fifth and sixth amendment guaranteed constitutional rights: to be secure in our persons and effects, to remain silent and the right to counsel. 

I’m going to address a few points from those “priorities.”

“Kids should have a choice.” Minors have no choices in many legal aspects of our society. Tobacco, alcohol, guns, voting, entering into contracts, etc. Kids often do not have a choice, and kids know it. This law exists to protect our children because they lack the judgment to make such choices.

“These laws prevent juveniles from talking about an investigation with law enforcement officers, taking away opportunities to declare their innocence or offer helpful information to an investigation.” 

Nothing you can possibly say will motivate police to release you just because you declare your innocence. Nothing you say to them can ever help you, and you have no moral or legal obligation to help the police investigate you.

Police are allowed to lie to citizens in every state. Minors are especially susceptible to the professionally-developed interrogation techniques police will use against them. Kids are easily manipulated and police are using that to their advantage. Think I’m exaggerating? Read the article on The Innocence Project’s website, Five Facts about Police Deception and Youth You Should Know.

Do you know the state Office of Public Defender has a 24/7 hotline to provide minors that legal counsel? The police know it. They have to use it. That wasn’t included in their “legislative priorities,” was it? Remember what I said about the police lying to us? What they really dislike is the advice that legal counsel will give: Remain silent, no searches.

Here’s an important point: While the police are certainly allowed and do lie to you, you are not allowed to lie to them. Saying nothing is not lying. Remain silent.

You always have the right to remain silent. So, remain silent. Do not speak to police. Always demand counsel. Never consent to searches. If the police think they have probable cause or if they have a warrant, they will search what they want anyway. If they have neither of those and search, whatever they find is inadmissible.

To the police: Is my letter harsh? Maybe. As a matter of policy and training you lie to us. And now, you come after our kids’ constitutional rights. Where is the honor in these things? The constitutional rights we enjoy in America were put there to protect us from you and no others. Explain why we need constitutional amendments to protect ourselves from our own police.

You swore to uphold our constitution. In the face of these “legislative priorities” your leaders published, of what value are those oaths? RCW 13.40.740 forces police to protect our children’s constitutional rights. This law exists because police refuse to do so voluntarily.


J. Josephson