The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that police can lie to suspects when attempting to glean the truth about potential criminal activity. Ohio law enforcement officers commonly use deception to get at the truth when dealing with adult suspects or interviewees. The problem with this policy and questioning technique is that it is often used on juveniles as well, which may not be a good legal practice. Opponents of lying to juveniles in hopes of a conviction say that this is not the best method because it can impact defendants’ lives significantly while damaging the system in general.
Trust in the system
Juveniles are still just learning how the justice system actually works. Truth is central to all valid convictions in the criminal justice system. The goal of both sides in a criminal case is uncovering actual truth, and faith in the system begins at an early age. If juveniles are lied to by authorities, it can erode their trust in the system for the rest of their lives.
Impact on the juvenile
The concern for those who oppose lying to juveniles is the mental health aspect of being convicted of a crime at a young age and how it will impact the defendant going forward. Dealing with incarceration is difficult enough for an adult, but it can do irreparable harm to youth. Using deception as a form of prosecution can lead to juvenile defendants using the same tactic in a criminal case argument.
While police are trained to use whatever tactics they can to deter criminal activity, it is still important to keep a juvenile case investigation in context. A criminal conviction has long-reaching consequences for youth.