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Miranda Warning and Its Application to Juveniles

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What are a child's rights when questioned by police in school?

By Beth Hawkins | Published Fri, Jun 17 2011 10:06 am

Reviewed by Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Criminal Law Division Leader, Harrisburg, PA

In a 5-4 decision handed down Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a child's age can be taken into account when deciding whether they are entitled to a Miranda warning during police questioning. The case in question involved a 13-year-old North Carolina boy who was a suspect in a series of neighborhood thefts.

Police went to the boy's school, where he was pulled out of social studies class and questioned in the presence of an assistant principal who urged him to "do the right thing." After he confessed, an officer told the boy he didn't have to talk and was free to go. The child's statements were used against him in court, where he was found to be delinquent.

Review by Attorney Pasqualini-

In J. D. B. v. NORTH CAROLINA, Decided June 16, 2011 by the U.S Supreme Court, the Court's ruling will have a drastic effect on the way police and school officials conduct themselves when questioning a student about suspected criminal activity.  The ruling will have little effect on school expulsion or suspension proceedings, which are civil in nature.  However, the statements provided by a student that is being "interrogated" or questioned by state officials may be suppressed or excluded from the prosecution's case if determined that Miranda was violated. 

The Miranda ruling provides the following:

  • (1) he has a right to a lawyer, and if he cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for him;
  • (2) if he desires a lawyer, the police will not pursue the interrogation until he has an opportunity to consult one;
  • (3) that he has the right to remain silent and the interrogators will allow him to exercise that right; and
  • (4) that if he desires to talk, anything he says can and will be used against him in court.
  • If you have questions or concerns regarding the treatment of a student suspected of a crime, contact the experienced team at Shaffer & Engle Law Office, LLC, toll free or email us.

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