Minor in Questioning
August 22nd, 2018 by Brent de la Paz
What Happens to Minors in Questioning
As most of us have seen in T.V. shows and movies, one of the first things said to someone being arrested is their Miranda rights. If you’re unfamiliar with that title, it’s the iconic phrase that starts with “you have the right to remain silent” and continues from there.
It is required for a police officer to recite the Miranda rights to someone they are arresting before they are taken into custody or interrogated. If an officer fails to do so, a judge may disregard any statements or confessions that the person in questioning might make.
What happens if a minor is in questioning?
Before questioning begins, the minor would be taken into custody. However, determining the exact point of when someone was taken into custody can be a bit of a grey area. Unmistakably, an arrest results in police custody, but other scenarios can lead to custody even without a formal arrest.
Determining custody in a court is based on a “reasonable person” standard. If a reasonable person feels free to leave in a scenario involving law enforcement, then they have not been placed in custody and do not need their rights read to them. However, if a reasonable person would not feel free to leave the scene, then they have been placed in police custody and therefore would need their Miranda rights read to them.
Take the case of J.D.B. for example. A teenage boy, just 13 years old, was possibly linked to two burglary cases. A police officer went to his school and took him into a room with the door closed for questioning (with other administrators present). At no point did the officer inform the teenager that he could leave at any time, nor did he read him his Miranda rights. J.D.B. proceeded to admit to his involvement in the burglaries and provided further detail about the crimes.
What was learned?
The court reasoned that because of their relative immaturity and lack of experience, children “cannot be viewed simply as miniature adults.” The comprehension of the situation would differ from child to adult, therefore, so would their understanding of when a questioning constitutes custody. It is fair to argue that children may be more cooperative with authority, so they would need their rights read to them in situations that an adult might not.
Because of this, police questionings of minors are more carefully examined. When questioning a minor, an officer must be more conscious of the nature of the interrogation, the surrounding environment, the people present, and the age of the minor.
Seeking Legal Expertise?
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