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Ohio Lawmaker to Sponsor Bill Granting Minors an Attorney Before Being Charged

Friday, October 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM

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The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this week that state law doesn't entitle minors the right to an attorney during police interrogations that happen before charges are filed. A Democratic state representative from Columbus wants to change that. Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard is concerned that young accused offenders are scared during interrogations, and she’s worried about juveniles from poor families who don’t have the money to hire lawyers right away.

Heard: “We are just trying to level the playing field and most importantly create at least the amount of protection for juveniles as we would for adults.”

Heard’s bill would require children under 18 be read their rights, and would give them the right to speak to their parents, guardians or legal counsel before answering questions. Because the General Assembly is not in session until after the election, it’s highly unlikely this bill will be dealt with this year. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this week in a Cleveland case where a minor stopped for driving without a valid license told police about his role in a robbery and waived his constitutional rights. His attorneys said state law requires juveniles to have legal counsel “at all stages of proceedings” in a delinquency case. But the court ruled “proceedings” doesn’t include investigatory action.

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Community/Human Interest, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement, Government/Politics

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