Political News

Court says age must be considered in interrogation

Posted June 16, 2011

— The Supreme Court says courts must consider age when examining whether a child is in custody and must be given Miranda rights.

The high court on Thursday ruled that police and school officials were wrong when they interviewed a 13-year-old special education student from Smith Middle School about a string of break-ins in Chapel Hill.

The interview took place in a closed room at his school. The boy, identified only as J.D.B., was never read his Miranda rights, and his lawyer challenged the use of his confession.

The North Carolina Supreme Court refused to throw out the confession and said courts cannot look at age when examining whether the boy thought he could leave.

But the U.S. Supreme Court said in a 5-4 vote that courts have to consider how old the child was during the interrogation.

"To hold, as the state requests, that a child’s age is never relevant to whether a suspect has been taken into custody – and thus to ignore the very real differences between children and adults – would be to deny children the full scope of the procedural safeguards that Miranda guarantees to adults," Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the majority.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his dissent that applying special circumstances to Miranda, such as someone's age, will cause the warning against self-incrimination to "lose the clarity and ease of application that has long been viewed as one of its chief justifications."

The Supreme Court sent the case back to North Carolina for a judge to determine whether J.D.B. was in custody at the time he was questioned.


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  • Lead by Example Jun 17, 2011

    So what real changes are going to come b/c of this ruling?

  • jscletsplay1002002 Jun 16, 2011

    I feel anyone under 18 shouldnt be asked any questions til thier parents or legal guardian is present.

    What they cant vote you into office but you can lock em up and throw away the key? Yeah, kids are meaningless.(sarcasm)

  • kodac31 Jun 16, 2011

    There the US Supreme Court goes again with the LIBERAL JUSTICES telling the States that they know best and you must abide this order. This is a ridiculous ruling, completely unnecessary, as there are already MANY safeguards in the law & in Miranda that apply to minors protection from "custodial interrogation". AWFUL RULING by liberal activist judges! Folks, remember this...The next President of the US after next years election will most likely, in that 4 year term, will put 3 new Justices on the Supreme Court! Now, imagine for a moment a US Supreme Court full of Sotomyors & Kagans...SCARY, SCARY, THOUGHT!

  • Common Sense Man Jun 16, 2011

    It'll be close, but I predict that the NC courts will rule that he was not in custody for the purposes of Miranda.

  • abylelab -BT- Jun 16, 2011

    YES! Finally good to hear about them getting something right.

  • Common Sense Man Jun 16, 2011

    "When a child is in the principals office, with or without the police present, they really have no authority to leave - just ask the principals or superintendant - without harsh consequences."

    "Free to leave" is not the same thing as being "in custody" for the purposes of Miranda.

  • Common Sense Man Jun 16, 2011

    "The high court on Thursday ruled that police and school officials were wrong when they interviewed a 13-year-old special education student from Smith Middle School about a string of break-ins in Chapel Hill."

    WOW! Could the media be any more wrong? The court DID NOT RULE THAT the police were wrong! They ruled that age must be taken into consideration and they sent it back to the NC courts for them to decide if Miranda should have applied. Don't believe anything you read in the media.

  • BigUNCFan Jun 16, 2011

    Yup, gotta agree with this ruling. I would say that the confession was inadmissable anyway because the Miranda rights were not read so even if age was not an issue, that was still a mix up.

  • ncbeelady52 Jun 16, 2011

    Under the NC Genernal Statues, Juveniles have juvenile codes that apply.The "laws" are all the same. An officer can charge what ever statue that fits, but its the way that juveniles are treated. A custodial confession or admission may not be admitted into evidence unless that confession/admission was made in thh presence of a parent,guardian,custodian or an attorney. They can not waive that right. And a parent,guardian or custodian cannot waive it for them.
    But if the requirement of GS 7B-2101b are satisfied, the right of self incrimination during custodial questioning may be waived by a juvenile under 14 years of age, but he has to do it "knowninly,intelligently and voluntarliy waived his rights" but the burden is on the State to prove that the juvenile made a valid waiver of rights....you have adult right(Miranda) which you should advise, plus there are two sets of Juvenile rights for certain ages. Thats why it is very important to have Juvenile Officers who are well versed in Juven

  • The2ruthHurts Jun 16, 2011

    "Ive been "grabbed" and "grilled" as an innocent person. Cops can be rather angry people and ASSUME a lot with no evidence. Most the ones I know were picked on in high school. Most want to power grab. They sure do display it.

    No wonder they only make $30K a year."

    Its understandable how you would feel about is this situation. But do not forget that its not what you feel or say in the heat of the moment. People forget that cops have a dangerous job to do and unless they know you, they will treat you like a suspect until they can prove otherwise. To blanket cops in general based on one incident is childish. Cops are people to and you forget that many have died this year. But I am sure you could careless.

    Cops are not the bad guys and to quickly insult the profession with your salary comment tells me you are no angel yourself and I ask how much did you contribute to this "traumatic" situation of yours?