May 28, 2024

The 2024‑25 Budget

Juvenile Custodial Interrogations Mandate

Constitution Requires the State to Reimburse Local Governments for Mandated Activities. State law tasks the Commission on State Mandates (Commission) with determining whether new state laws or regulations affecting local governments create state-reimbursable mandates. Typically, the process for determining whether a law or regulation is a state-reimbursable mandate takes several years. State law further requires our office to analyze any new mandates identified by the Commission as a part of our annual analysis of the state budget. In particular, state law directs our office to report on the annual state costs for new mandates and make recommendations to the Legislature as to whether the new mandates should be repealed, funded, suspended, or modified. Below, we discuss the Juvenile Custodial Interrogations mandate, which is a newly identified state mandate funded in the Governor’s 2024-25 May Revision budget.


Arrested Youths Have Rights to Prevent Self-Incrimination. After a youth suspected of a crime is arrested, law enforcement may want to interrogate the youth to gather information related to the crime. However, youths have federal and state rights to remain silent, have legal counsel—typically a lawyer—present during any interrogation, and have legal counsel appointed in cases where the youth or the youth’s family cannot afford it. These are collectively known as Miranda rights. A law enforcement officer is required to communicate these rights and—prior to beginning an interrogation—explain that anything said by the arrested youth can and will be used against the youth. The arrested youth can waive these rights. A waiver of Miranda rights would allow law enforcement to collect information related to the suspected crime through an interrogation, including in cases when legal counsel is not present. The information collected through an interrogation can be used in a prosecution—known as a petition in the juvenile justice system—if charges are pursued against the youth. Without a waiver of Miranda rights, information collected through a law enforcement interrogation generally is not permissible in a court case filed against the youth.

State Required Legal Counsel for Certain Arrested Youths. Beginning in 2018, Chapter 681 of 2017 (SB 395, Lara) required that arrested youths age 15 and younger be provided a consultation with legal counsel before they may waive their Miranda rights or be interrogated. The consultation is prohibited from being waived and must occur in person, by telephone, or by video conference. Exempted from this requirement are interrogations by probation officers in their normal duties and questioning necessary to protect life or property from an imminent threat. Under Chapter 681, these requirements were to sunset beginning January 1, 2025. The Commission has yet to find that Chapter 681 is a mandate because, as of March 2024, no local governments have filed a claim with the Commission related to it.

Change in State Law Extended and Expanded Required Access to Legal Counsel for Arrested Youths. Chapter 335 of 2020 (SB 203, Bradford) indefinitely extended the requirement that arrested youths must have access to legal counsel prior to waiving their Miranda rights or an interrogation by law enforcement by eliminating the sunset date discussed above. In addition, Chapter 335 expanded the required consultation with counsel to apply to arrested youths who are age 16 or 17.

Commission Determined Chapter 335 Created a State-Reimbursable Mandate. The Commission found that Chapter 335’s requirements to provide access to legal counsel for arrested youths age 16 and 17 created a state-reimbursable mandate by imposing new state-mandated activities and costs on local governments. The costs imposed by this mandate include legal counsel services, indirect—such as administrative—costs, and law enforcement’s time to ensure youths consult with legal counsel. Accordingly, the Commission’s decision makes costs incurred by a local government to meet this requirement reimbursable by the state. The Commission estimates that the initial state cost of claims from local governments related to the mandate between the second half of 2020-21 and 2021-22 could range between $37,000 and $1.2 million. Additionally, the Commission estimates that the annual costs for the mandate could range between $19,000 and $1 million starting in 2022-23.

Governor’s Budget

Governor Funds Mandate Reimbursement Costs. The Governor’s 2024-25 May Revision budget proposes $2.2 million in General Fund in 2024-25 to reimburse local governments for the costs they incurred to comply with the juvenile custodial interrogation statute and $1 million ongoing starting in 2025-26. The 2024-25 amount includes $1.2 million one time for the initial claiming period between the second half of 2020-21 and 2021-22. It also includes $1 million General Fund to support such costs in the budget year. Funding the mandate would keep local compliance with the above requirements mandatory in 2024-25 and the state responsible for the costs incurred by local governments.

LAO Comments

Commission Estimate Reasonable, but Uncertain. We find that the Commission’s estimate relies on various assumptions that are reasonable, but that the estimate is still subject to uncertainty. For example, the Commission estimates how many youths would require legal counsel before the waiver of Miranda rights and prior to an interrogation by using annual arrest data. Although data specifically on how many youths ages 16 and 17 were subject to an interrogation would be preferable, such data are not available statewide. Accordingly, arrest data are the best proxy. Other factors also add uncertainty. For example, the number of interrogations may fluctuate based on local policing decisions or changes in the number of youth arrests. Furthermore, statewide costs could be affected by other factors that remain uncertain, such as changes in the number of counties that choose to file reimbursable claims and the extent to which counties include law enforcement or indirect costs in their claims.

Stakes of Interrogations Are High for Youths. Interrogations can have significant implications on outcomes for youths in the juvenile justice system. As discussed above, the information collected through an interrogation can be used to file a petition in juvenile court. This is notable because research suggests that youths may be less likely to understand their Miranda rights and are more susceptible to waving their rights than adults. This is because youths can lack the capacity to weigh the long-term consequences of waiving their rights and may do so as a matter of compliance with authority. In addition, research suggests that youths are at risk for involuntary and false confessions in interrogations. This could result in youths experiencing negative legal outcomes, such as becoming more involved in the criminal or juvenile justice systems—or for longer periods of time—than they otherwise would. These risks could be higher for Black and Hispanic youths because they tend to be overrepresented in annual youth arrests.

Unknown What Effects Legal Counsel at This Stage Has. In our review, we did not identify robust research on the effects of providing youths with legal counsel before the waiver of Miranda rights or interrogations. Accordingly, we were not able to determine whether there are positive, negative, or neutral outcomes for youths suspected of committing a crime that are provided with legal counsel at this stage. For example, it is unknown whether the provision of legal counsel would minimize the number of youths who make involuntary or false confessions. (Regardless of whether research finds that the effects are positive, negative, or neutral, Chapter 335 would still be a state-reimbursable mandate.)


Fund Mandate. Given the stakes for youths who are facing potential interrogations and the relatively modest state costs, requiring local governments to provide youths with legal counsel prior to waiving their Miranda rights appears reasonable. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature fund the mandate. However, as with most other state programs, the Legislature will ultimately have to weigh these activities against other budget priorities. Going forward, the Legislature will want to monitor the implementation of Chapter 335. Should it become clear that there are not benefits of providing youths with legal counsel at this stage of the juvenile justice process—or that the benefits of doing so do not justify the costs—the Legislature could suspend the mandate at that time.