Many juveniles show deficits in their understanding and appreciation of the right to silence; researchers have expressed concern that such deficits may be related to juveniles’ frequent waiver of the right to silence. Implicit in this concern is the idea that it is in juveniles’ best interests to assert their right to silence. The current studies sought to investigate whether there are conditions under which adverse inferences might be drawn from a juveniles’ refusal to speak. Generally, results indicated that a juvenile’s assertion of the right to silence did not adversely affect American judges’, Canadian judges’, or Canadian law students’ a) sentencing decisions, b) evaluations of the strength of evidence against the juvenile, and c) assessments of the juveniles’ amenability to treatment, criminal sophistication, and remorsefulness. However, these outcome variables were affected by judges’ nationality; Canadian judges sentenced the juvenile more leniently and tended to perceive him more favourably.
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