Juvenile Fifth Amendment Privilege Against Self-Incrimination
The United States Supreme Court first recognized the procedural injustice of the juvenile system in Kent v. United States, 383 U.S. 541, 86 S. Ct. 1045, 16 L. Ed. 2d 84 (1966).
The following year it decided In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 49, 87 S. Ct. 1428, 1455, 18 L. Ed. 2d 527 (1967) and held that the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause applied to juvenile delinquency proceedings entitling juveniles to notice of charges, defense counsel, the privilege against self-incrimination, and confrontation of and cross-examination of witnesses. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 750-51.
By asserting that the Fifth Amendment does not apply to the disposition hearing in a juvenile proceeding because the goals of the adult criminal and juvenile systems are quite different, the State makes an argument that has been put forward as justification for denial of constitutional and procedural rights to juveniles since the inception of the juvenile system in the United States.
More recently, however, a comparison of the aspirations of the juvenile system with its "grim realities" has caused this argument to be subjected to intense scrutiny, and on many occasions, has resulted in various constitutional and procedural rights being extended to juveniles. See Hidalgo v. State, 983 S.W.2d 746, 751-52 (Tex.Crim.App. 1999); Lanes v. State, 767 S.W.2d 789, 800 (Tex.Crim.App. 1989).
At one time, procedural safeguards provided by the Constitution and Bill of Rights were inapplicable to juvenile proceedings due to the juvenile system's underlying philosophy that juveniles are in need of the state's care and guidance. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 750; Lanes, 767 S.W.2d at 792-94.
Juvenile courts were created for treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and this focus on the best interest of the child through treatment set juvenile courts apart from regular criminal courts which directed their efforts at punishing the offender. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 750; Lanes, 767 S.W.2d at 792-93.
In the process, juveniles were denied many fundamental constitutional and procedural rights. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 750.
However, juveniles have not been granted the full array of protections afforded adults under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 751.
Instead, the Supreme Court has taken a case-by-case approach to examine the protection claimed and the effect it would have on the unique framework of the juvenile justice system. Id.
Following the Supreme Court's lead, the Court of Criminal Appeals articulated a balancing test in Lanes v. State for delineating which constitutional protections apply to juveniles in juvenile court proceedings. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 751.
Under this test, the reviewing court compares the purposes and goals of the juvenile system to the particular right asserted. Id.
Stated differently, the court must examine the impact or degree of impairment the constitutional protection will have on our juvenile justice system. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 752.
In adopting the Lanes test, the Court of Criminal Appeals noted that the juvenile system had become more punitive than rehabilitative. Lanes, 767 S.W.2d at 800.
As recognized in Hidalgo, recent amendments to the Juvenile Justice Code have resulted in a more punishment- oriented system, and consequently, continue to erode the original justifications for denying juveniles the same procedural protections as adults. Hidalgo, 983 S.W.2d at 751.
Indeed, two of the express purposes of the current Juvenile Justice Code are to provide for the protection of the public and public safety and to promote the concept of punishment for criminal acts. TEX.FAM.CODE ANN. 51.01(1), (2)(A)(Vernon 1996).