Governor Signs Bradford Bill Protecting Youth Miranda Rights
SACRAMENTO – Today Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 203, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), which prevents youth, up to age 17, from being interrogated prior to being held in custody and before waiving their Miranda rights without consulting with legal counsel.
“Most adults have no legal background,” said Senator Steven Bradford. “And on top of that many of us don’t even fully understand our legal rights when interacting with members of law enforcement. This law will protect all of California’s youth and build trust in our criminal justice system. Young people must know their rights and they should not be alone when being interrogated.”
When law enforcement conducts a custodial interrogation, they are required to recite basic constitutional rights to the individual, known as Miranda rights, and secure a waiver of those rights before proceeding. A waiver of these rights must be “knowing, voluntary, and intelligent,” meaning that the person waiving their rights understands them and the effect of giving them up.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that youth often do not fully comprehend the consequences of waiving their rights. They are also much more likely than adults to waive their rights and confess to crimes they did not commit. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since 1989, 36% of people who falsely confessed to a crime and were later exonerated were under the age of 18. Previous law only required youth up to 15 years old to consult with legal counsel before interrogation. That protection was set to end in January of 2025.
“We are all familiar with instances of innocent youth who become pressured into giving false confessions and have had their lives devastated as a consequence,” continued Bradford. “Youth such as the Central Park Five in New York, who did not have legal counsel during questioning, spent years of their lives in prison for a crime they did not commit and could have cost them their lives due to the current occupant of the White House calling for their execution. I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this bill and his commitment to making our system fairer for young Californians.”
This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of supporters, including Human Rights Watch, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, the National Center for Youth Law, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
More information about Senator Bradford and his legislation can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/Bradford.
Senator Bradford represents the Los Angeles County communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Torrance, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington.