The case of a 10-year-old boy who shot his neo-Nazi father in the head may lead to legislative reform in California in regards to children waiving their Miranda rights without first obtaining legal guidance.
In 2011, Joseph Hall shot his father Jeffrey Hall in the head at point-blank range with his own gun while he was sleeping on the couch, according to The Washington Post. The bullet entered Jeffrey’s head behind his left ear.
Joseph told officers he shot his father because he was abusive towards him and members of his family, which evidence proved.
Jeffrey was the regional director of the National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi organization in the U.S.
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"I want a white nation," he told the Los Angeles Times in October 2010. "I don't hide what I am, and I don't water that down."
Hours before his death, Jeffrey held a meeting of the neo-Nazi group at his home.
“I shot dad,” Joseph told his stepmother after murdering his father.
Authorities took Joseph into custody, and after an interrogation that lasted more than an hour, he was allowed to give up his Miranda rights without first consulting an attorney.
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The boy has developmental disabilities, and some argue he did not understand what giving up his Miranda rights entailed or the consequences of his actions against his father.
“How many lives do people usually get?” Joseph asked police officers who responded to the murder scene, according to court records.
In 2013, Joseph was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to ten years in a California juvenile facility. His legal team is appealing the conviction and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review it after the California Supreme Court denied it.
Joseph’s case has prompted legislation to be introduced in California to provide protection for children during a police interrogation.
Senate Bill 1052 would require anyone younger than 18-years-old consult with an attorney or a legal guardian before they are allowed to waive their Miranda rights. It would also prohibit a police interrogation to take place until the aforementioned has occurred.
The California Senate and Assembly have approved the bill, and the Senate will take a final vote soon.
“We have to update our laws to be realistic, to be sure that children have protection before they’re aggressively interrogated,” the bill’s author, Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara told The Washington Post. “Young people don’t grasp what they’re agreeing to.”
If the bill becomes law, then it will not affect Joseph’s case.