The goal of this project is to examine age-based differences in knowledge regarding the role of counsel, presumptions about counsel, and maturity of judgment when making decisions about whether to waive the right to counsel. The objectives are: (1) to describe the participants understanding of and beliefs about the waiver decision; (2) to evaluate age based differences in knowledge, beliefs, and the role of psychosocial factors in waiver decision making; and (3) to compare parent and youth understanding of, beliefs about, and potential mutual influences on the waiver decision.
The study will use a developmental framework for understanding juveniles capacities in decision making. To examine these issues, the study proposes to interview an estimated 400 pairs of parents and post adjudication youth (200 youth ages 11-14 and 200 youth ages 15-17) from several jurisdictions in Virginia and Massachusetts. These pairs will be asked to complete semi-structured interviews that include assessments of demographics; responses to vignettes; intellectual functioning; emotional symptoms; psychosocial maturity; knowledge and beliefs about attorneys; and knowledge and beliefs about the justice system process and waiver of counsel decision including direct and collateral consequences.
The data will be analyzed using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and logistic regression to detect non-independence, or influences, within parent-youth pairs.