J.D.B. v. North Carolina Decided

June 17, 2011

Whether a child’s age may be considered as part of the totality of circumstances in determining whether a suspect is in custody and must therefore be given Miranda warnings prior to any police interrogation.

A suspect in custody must be given Miranda warnings prior to any police interrogation.  Whether a suspect is in custody for Miranda purposes depends on the totality of circumstances. The ultimate question is whether a reasonable person in similar circumstances would feel free to leave and terminate the questioning. The suspect in this case was a 13 year old boy who was interrogated in school by police officers. In our amicus brief, the ACLU argues that the suspect’s age is an appropriate factor to consider in deciding whether Miranda warnings were required. We also argue that the school context is relevant, since students in school are not normally free leave a room whenever they choose. Finally, our amicus brief highlights for the court the increasing prevalence of police in school, and the increasing criminalization of school disciplinary infractions.

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