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Juvenile interrogation protection

Published (2/22/2008)
By Mike Cook
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Amy Erickson was 15 years old when she was abducted by three men just blocks from her Dakota County home. She escaped before she could be sexually assaulted.

But her nightmare was far from over.

The police interrogated her for more than two hours, until she said the incident did not happen.

“I was a victim turned into a criminal,” she told the House Crime Victims Subcommittee Feb. 15, fighting off tears. “I always grew up trying to trust the police. … I didn’t know I could walk out of the room. I didn’t know my rights.”

Warren Robinson, a private investigator, said the interrogation videotape shows Amy asking for her mother, Cindy.

“She felt the only way out of this situation was to tell them what they wanted to hear,” Cindy Erickson said.

Amy Erickson was later charged with falsifying a report to police. That charge was later dropped after it was fought by the family. She believes the police never went after her attackers.

Sponsored by Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park), HF3007 would prohibit juveniles under age 16 from waiving their right to counsel during custodial interrogations, unless a juvenile’s attorney, parent or custodian, under certain circumstances, makes the waiver. The juvenile may also knowingly and voluntarily consent to the waiver.

“It’s not requiring that a parent be there. It’s giving that as an option,” Simon said.

Approved by the subcommittee, it was sent to the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee. It has no Senate companion.

David Brown, an assistant Hennepin County attorney, said the bill could be problematic.

He said defendants are getting younger and their crimes are becoming more severe, especially when it comes to gang activity. Plus, he said it could sometimes be troublesome to determine a child’s parent or guardian, and then it could take days to find that person.

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