Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a Miranda case that could have sweeping implications for young suspects who are interrogated by the police. The question presented is whether children, by their very nature, are more likely than an adult to feel restrained when being interrogated and should therefore be more likely to be given their Miranda warnings. The case involves a 13 year old child who was suspected of some residential burglaries in Chapel Hill North Carolina. A juvenile police detective went to the child's school, pulled the child out of his class and questioned him a a school conference room in the presence of four adults. The door to the conference room was closed, but not locked, and the juvenile was never read his Miranda rights. He ended up confessing to the burglaries and was later charged with the crimes. Under current law, suspects have to be read their Miranda rights if they are in custody. Whether someone is in custody is determined by looking at whether a "reasonable person" would feel free to leave. The Plaintiffs in this case are asking that the juveniles age be taken into consideration when determining whether Miranda rights should be read to them.
A decision on this case is expected to be released later this year.
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