House Bill 1140, concerning juvenile access to attorneys when contacted by law enforcement, was signed into law by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, and will take effect in the state on January 1, 2022. The law requires that juveniles being questioned in connection to a crime must confer with an attorney before they can speak with, or are interviewed by, police. Statements made before speaking with an attorney, with exceptions of human trafficking or imminent danger, are inadmissible.
The law is part of a series of reform bills drafted in response to protests against police brutality. A column in the Yakima Herald delves into the topic and the countering viewpoints from public defenders and law enforcement officials.
Excerpted from the article:
“This is absolutely going to make it more difficult for law enforcement to prosecute juvenile crime and obtain any information from a suspect under the age of 18,” Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said.
Yakima County Sheriff Bob Udell said attorneys will most likely advise kids to not speak to police, which he said could prevent authorities from helping them get out of a life of crime.
However, the head of Yakima County’s public defenders said the move will not hobble law enforcement, but instead protect the rights of teenagers who are more susceptible to being coerced into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit.