In J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S.Ct. 2394 (2011), a uniformed officer questioned a 12-year-old boy at school about a string of local burglaries. The officer told the boy he was free to leave, but also told him that a court could order juvenile detention. The school’s assistant principal told the boy to “do the right thing.” Eventually, he confessed to the burglaries. At trial, the boy’s lawyer argued that the confession was essentially coerced due to the boy’s age and the circumstances surrounding the questioning. The state courts in Florida held that the boy was not in detention, because he was free to leave. Therefore, Miranda warnings were not required.
However, the Supreme Court ruled that the child’s age is relevant. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out, children are required by law to go to school and are often subject to discipline for disobedience. Students are therefore much more likely to believe that they are obligated to answer police questions. Therefore, Miranda warnings are required in order to inform students that they do not have to answer police questions and can contact an attorney.
If you or your child has been subject to police questioning, you should contact a Jacksonville Defense Attorney to discuss the case.