21
Nov
10

The child can change his mind, right Judge?

 

What if  children change their minds regarding their admissions, waivers, etc. in juvenile court?

change your mind

In Nebraska, adult criminal defendants may withdraw their plea before sentencing for any fair and just reason, as long as prosecution would not be substantially prejudiced by its reliance on the plea entered. Adult criminal law can be used for guidance in juvenile court; however, it is clear that children’s admissions and subsequent request to withdraw their admissions must be treated with “special care,” particularly when such admissions were made without the benefit of counsel.

Studies show that juveniles often rely on incomplete cognitive and linguistic capacities that may compromise their ability to articulate goals, concerns, and desires in the courtroom. Furthermore, juveniles have a greater tendency than adults to take risks that endanger them, they struggle to distinguish “conditional” and “automatic” rights, and they often believe that advocacy is not available in their own cases.

While there is no standard that outlines when a child can and cannot change their mind regarding their “guilt” in juvenile court, for all of the above mentioned reasons, a juvenile’s request to withdraw his or her initial admission should be granted . . . even if an adult’s request to withdraw a guilty plea would be denied under similar circumstances.

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