Presently, copious amounts of research have been done regarding a juvenile’s competency to stand trial. However, whether or not a juvenile is competent to give a guilty plea has yet to be determined. Through empirical research, this article examines whether juveniles are mentally capable to give a competent guilty plea in criminal proceedings. Drawing on multidisciplinary sources, including the work of legal scholars, psychologists, legal professionals, court cases, and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, this article explains how a juvenile’s age, brain and psychological development, intelligence, and social influences are important when determining the juvenile’s competency. It also discusses how these factors interrelate with the type of crime that was committed and with the modified Miranda waiver standard explained in this article. This article shows how all these factors come together to create the profile of a typical juvenile and how each of these factors should be weighed when the judge determines a juvenile’s competency to give a guilty plea. It also explains how each of these factors helps to determine if the suspect exhibited the type of behavior expected of a typical juvenile. After considering whether or not the suspect was behaving like an adult or a juvenile under each factor and weighing each factor appropriately under the circumstances, the judge can determine the likelihood of competency. If the juvenile showed the behavior typical of an adult, the juvenile is likely to be found competent.

This content is only available via PDF.