Sheriff’s Office simplifies Miranda warnings for juveniles

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The King County Sheriff’s Office will start providing juveniles with simplified Miranda warnings.

The Sheriff’s Office developed the warnings in collaboration with the Department of Public Defense and in consultation with Creative Justice, a community-based nonprofit that works with system-involved children.

The simplified warnings are consistent with research on adolescent brain science. 

Researchers have found that adolescents often lack the experience, perspective, and judgment to recognize and avoid choices that could be detrimental to them.

In addition, research shows that adolescents are vulnerable to “yea-saying” or acquiescing when an officer asks them if they want to waive their rights.

When police use plain language to explain to youth their rights by asking them simple and clear questions about whether they want to waive them adolescents can make a more informed choice.

The simplified Miranda warnings address the issues identified by researchers.

They use simple, comprehensible language that will help ensure adolescents understand their rights and make a knowing and voluntary decision to assert or to waive them. 

“Criminal convictions have much larger and longer impacts than a possible jail sentence,” said Sheriff John Urquhart. “We want to help youth succeed. That’s why we’re asking them to help us solve crimes while at the same time we are working harder to protect their rights.”

Anita Khandelwal, Interim Deputy Director of the Department of Public Defense, stated

 “We are thrilled that we have been able to partner with the King County Sheriff’s Office and the community to help our juvenile justice system practices take into account the science. We believe this partnership is a model for how we can continue to reform and improve King County’s justice system.”

Since the beginning of 2016, Sheriff Urquhart has participated in monthly meetings of the Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee. The efforts to simplify Miranda warnings, stems from an overall goal of King County and the Juvenile Justice Equity Steering committee, to reduce youth incarceration.

Below are the simplified statements and questions that will be read to juveniles in addition to the regular Miranda Warnings.


1. You have the right to remain silent, which means that you don’t have to say anything.

2. It’s OK if you don’t want to talk to me.

3. If you do want to talk to me, I can tell the juvenile court judge or adult court judge and Probation Officer what you tell me.

4. You have the right to talk to a free lawyer right now. That free lawyer works for you and is available at any time – even late at night. That lawyer does not tell anyone what you tell them. That free lawyer helps you decide if it’s a good idea to answer questions. That free lawyer can be with you if you want to talk with me.

5. If you start to answer my questions, you can change your mind and stop at any time. I won’t ask you any more questions.


Juvenile Waiver of Rights:


1. Do you understand? (If yes, then continue to number 2)

2. Do you want to have a lawyer? (If no, then continue to number 3)

3. Do you want to talk with me? (If yes, then proceed with questioning)



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