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Should Juveniles Have Access to an Attorney When Contacted by Police?

Senate lawmakers debated Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1140, which would provide juvenile access to attorneys when contacted by law enforcement.

Rep. Jesse Johnson (D- Federal Way, 30th-LD) first introduced HB1140. Rep. Debra Entenman (D-Kent, 47th-LD) and freshman Rep. Jamila Taylor (D-Federal Way, 30th LD) are among the bill’s sponsors.

House Bill 1140

The latest bill report provides a brief summary of the engrossed substitute bill. This summary states the bill:

  • Requires law enforcement to provide juveniles with access to an attorney prior to any waiver of the juvenile’s constitutional rights when law enforcement: (1) questions a juvenile after providing a Miranda warning; (2) detains a juvenile based on reasonable suspicion; or (3) requests that the juvenile provide consent to an evidentiary search of the juvenile or the juvenile’s property, dwellings, or vehicles under the juvenile’s control.
  • Provides that the consultation with an attorney may not be waived.
  • Establishes that statements made by a juvenile during or after the foregoing scenarios are inadmissible, unless: (1) the juvenile is provided with access to an attorney for consultation and the juvenile makes a valid waiver of the juvenile’s rights; (2) the statement is for impeachment purposes; or (3) the statement was made spontaneously.
  • Establishes exceptions to the attorney-consultation requirement if law enforcement believes the  juvenile is a victim of trafficking, or believes the information sought is necessary to protect an individual’s life from an imminent threat.
  • Requires the Office of Public Defense to provide access to attorneys for juveniles when required by this act.

The House passed the bill along party lines with a 56-41 roll call on March 2. Rep. Mike Chapman voted Nay. The Senate passed the bill 29-19 on  April 11. The vote in the Senate saw two Republicans, Sen. Chris Gildon and Sen. Brad Hawkins join Democrats in support of the bill. Tim Sheldon joined Republicans with a no vote.

The House and Senate will now negotiate amendments, and if they can come to an agreement, the legislation will go to the Governor’s office, to be signed into law. For more information on House Bill 1140 go to the bill’s page. (click here).

For more complete information on any legislation, including sponsors, a synopsis, and fiscal notes, visit the Washington State Legislature’s bill information webpage: here.

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