A. J.D.B. v North Carolina (2011) is a case in which the most powerful court of the states of America held that the factor of age is to be placed under consideration when placing one on police custody (North Carolina Supreme Court, 2009)
1. J.D.B was a thirteen-year-old student who was questioned for two home break-ins which had occurred in a neighborhood
2. He attended a special education class at the smith middle school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
3. He had been spotted by the police in the neighborhood. They came to where he learned and picked him for questioning within the school premises in the presence of his school administrator juvenile investigator and a uniformed police officer
B. A Miranda warning is the explanation of a suspects rights, and this must be read out to the suspect by the law enforcement before he is interrogated (Hall, 2002)
1. It is based primarily on the fifth amendment right that seeks to protect an individual from incriminating themselves
2. Any person placed under police custody and gives statements or confession to an act of crime or wrongdoing and hasn’t received their Miranda rights the statements given are not admissible in court
3. If a person has not been placed in police custody, the police they are free to question him without having to inform him of their rights and these statements are admissible in court
C. After questioning him for the first time, it was realized that a digital camera matching a similar description to the one reported stolen, and this prompted the police to seek out J.B.D at his school
1. He was excluded from his class and led to a conference room within the school premises and was questioned regarding the incident by the police officer, the juvenile investigator and members of the school administration
2. The investigator had asked the school to verify the identity of J.D.B, his date of birth, parent contact information and his address no one contacted his grandmother with whom he lived with
3. J.D.B was held for questioning between 30-45 minutes regarding the incident.
D. Before the questioning, he was not advised to seek legal counsel neither was he read his Miranda rights.
1. The administrator of the learning institution encouraged J.D.B to do the right thing and that the truth will come out app99a, 112a.
2. He was told that the investigator may need to obtain a secure custody that would see J.D.B locked up in juvenile detention. It is this revelation that saw J.D.B confess to breaking in with a friend
3. Once he confessed to the break-ins at the urging of the school administrator it was then that the investigator informed him that he could object to answering the questions and that he was at liberty to leave the conference room
4. J.D.B said the understood this and went ahead to provide more details into the break-ins and even revealed the location of the property reported stolen
5. It was after this that he left the conference room and the school premises and went home at the request of the investigator
E. Two juvenile reports were filed against the accused J.D.B and in both he was accused of a single account of breaking and one account of larceny.
1.J.D.B’s public defender moved to have the statements made by J.D.B concealed as well as any evidence he had given thereof
2. The public defenders argument was that the evidence given by J.D.B and the statements he provided were done without him having been informed of his Miranda rights while he was being held in police custody
3. The trial court denied this motion stating that J.D.B was not in possession
F. The case was brought before the North Carolina Supreme Court who declined to have an extension to include the age factor while am individual is in police custody or being questioned by the police
1. The Supreme Court issued a cert in which they sought to determine whether Miranda custody should include a factor of age in this case that of a minor
2.several organizations including the American Bar association, the national association of criminal defense lawyers and the American civil rights liberties union all filed amicus briefs in support of J.D.B
3. About 30 states and two unincorporated territories also file amicus briefs in support of the ruling by North Carolina
G. This case brought into question the relevance of age while applying the custody analysis. Should the court decide the age of a minor when they are to place in custody for Miranda reasons (Sanger, 2011)
1. The judgment was overruled by the highest court lower trial court in a voting that saw five votes in favor of J.D.B while four voted against him
2. The case was sent back to the trial court to determine the age of the suspect at the time of the interrogation
3. It should be considered that when children are placed in an interrogation they are bound to submit to the police as opposed to adults who are more inclined to leave
4. Sotomayor, who wrote for the majority, offered that the age of a child offers the Miranda custody analysis
Let us look at the arguments offered by the opposing side regarding putting into consideration the age of a child for the Miranda custody analysis
Does the age of the child determine how reasonable they would be in a situation where they were supposed to leave and avoid the interrogation?
1. The objection to the ruling by the majority was that the ruling made was not in line with the main rationalization of the Miranda rule
2. That the need for a clear rule is important and that it should be easily applicable in all situations/cases
3. It was also their opinion that the shift in determining custody from a simple assessment to an examination that would require accounting for characteristics of individuals
4. Justice Alito had it that age was not the only determinant that may affect an individual while under investigation. Future cases would have the task of adding the different characteristics in determining custody analysis
1. The case attracted multiple opinions from different factions within the legal community. What stood up the most was that the police force may not be in a position to question minors in their school premises to avoid issuing them with the Miranda right.
2. This move was common by police who wanted to get the juvenile minors to confess to crimes they were suspected of. It was profoundly celebrated by the juvenile law center who were keen on protecting the rights of students
3. Those troubled by the ruling saw this as murky ground for the law enforcement to tread. It was stated that even with the Miranda rights being made known to the juniors it wouldn’t make much difference to the young people since they are not very versant on their legal rights and protection.
Hall, Kermit. Miranda v Arizona. The oxford companion to American Law. Oxford university press. 1966
North Carolina Supreme Court. In the matter of JDB (opinion). December 2009
Sanger, David. High court age must be considered in interrogation. National public radio. Accessed November 13, 2014