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Great Neck Juvenile Defendants Must Stay Quiet, State v. Pearson Shows

Being arrested as a teenager has many long-term implications.

For one, the defendant has the obstacle of facing the criminal justice or juvenile justice systems with the possibility for penalties that include house arrest, community service, probation or even jail or prison time. Following that, an arrest or a conviction on a teenager’s record can disqualify him or her from getting into college, earning scholarships, getting a job in this highly competitive market or enlisting in the armed forces.
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Yet despite these problematic issues, juvenile crime in Long Island remains steady. Teens are arrested every day and face serious allegations.

One such case out of Iowa, State v. Pearson, shows why juveniles, if arrested, should take no action without consulting with an experienced lawyer, and that includes discussing the case with anyone.

In Pearson, a 17-year-old was charged with severely beating an elderly man. After he was arrested, he did the smart thing by invoking his right to silence and not giving a statement to police. But, the next day, he decided to talk with his social worker about the allegations.

Without his lawyer, the teen confessed to the crime. At trial, the social worker was allowed to testify about everything he said. The Iowa Supreme Court upheld his appeal, where his lawyers argued that his admission to the social worker shouldn’t have been admitted at trial. But the state’s high court disagreed and allowed the statement in.

And, as the WCF Courier reports, Pearson, who wielded an iron frying pan and broke it over the victim’s head, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The state’s high court ruled that his admission wasn’t coerced and that he freely admitted to the facts of the crime and therefore the social worker’s testimony was allowed at trial.

When a young person is arrested, like a person of any age, he or she is probably in a panic. They know they are in trouble and know there’s a possibility they could go to jail in the short term and prison in the long term.

So, what most people do is attempt to get out of the charges with their words. This rarely works. Police officers get training every year about how to detect people are lying. They have listened to thousands of suspects spin thousands of stories about how they are innocent. Most people can’t fool them.

And there’s a reason United States citizens have a right to remain silent. What they say will be used against them in court, so rather than hurt your future criminal case, it is best not to say anything. Remain silent, speak with your lawyer — conversations that will be kept private — and put together a plan of how best to proceed.

Talking with police will only bolster the state’s case. Enact your right to silence by asking for a lawyer as soon as police come knocking. The risks far outweigh the reward of speaking.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides criminal defense legal counsel in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

More Blog Entries:

New York Theft Charges Require Proof Under Stephans v. State: October 20, 2011
State v. Green Illustrates Need for Self Defense in New York City Criminal Cases: October 18, 2011
Additional Resources:

Conviction for theft upheld in pan assault, by Jeff Reintz, WCF Courier