First Advisor

Kelsey Henderson

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice


Criminology and Criminal Justice




Police questioning, Minors, Right to counsel, Interviewing in law enforcement, Defense (Criminal procedure)



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 52 pages)


Juveniles have a lower comprehension of their Miranda rights than adults, and in turn, are more likely to waive those rights and cooperate during an interrogation. Some states require youths to consult with their parents before/during the interrogation; however, this involvement can be detrimental to the juvenile suspect. Recently, laws in California and Illinois have mandated that juveniles consult with a defense attorney prior to the interrogation, or that the attorney is present during the interrogation.

Through semi-structured interviews with 19 juvenile defense attorneys across the state of Oregon, I explored defense attorneys' perspectives on juveniles' legal decision-making in the interrogation room. I used an inductive approach to a thematic analysis to transcribe interviews into eight themes. These final themes, which give an overview of the topics discussed, include the following: situational factors, dispositional youth susceptibility factors, parental impact, requiring attorneys, law enforcement impact, opinions on safeguards, waiver competency, and system impact.

The themes discovered in this study demonstrate that defense attorneys are rarely present when youth are being questioned, meaning that juvenile defendants are frequently waiving their rights. When questioned by police without another adult present, defense attorneys report youth being suggestible to the influence of police due to their authority figure status, for which they have been socialized to obey. If another adult is present, it is sometimes the youth's parent, which attorneys report being hurtful to their client's case, as parents tend to encourage the truth. Overall, the majority of attorneys were supportive of a policy in Oregon to mandate consultation with a defense attorney prior to youth waiving their right to an attorney or their right to remain silent.


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