“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
When juveniles are arrested, they are entitled, by law, to have their Miranda rights read to them if they are being held in custody and being interrogated by a law enforcement officer. If a juvenile is in custody, then any confession that they give without being informed of their Miranda warnings is inadmissible in court. However, if a juvenile is not in custody, then police are free to question them without informing them of their Miranda warnings and their statements may be admissible in court.
Determining if a juvenile is in custody for the purposes of Miranda has been a legal issue before the U.S. Supreme Court in various cases. In Thompson v. Keohane, the court wrote: “Two discrete inquiries are essential to the determination: first, what were the circumstances surrounding the interrogation; and second, given those circumstances, would a reasonable person have felt he or she was at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.” 516 U.S. 99 (1995). “Once the scene is set and the players’ lines and actions are reconstructed, the court must apply an objective test to resolve ‘the ultimate inquiry’: ‘[was] there a formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement’ of the degree associated with formal arrest.” In 2011, the Court reiterated this in J.D.B. v. North Carolina, stating that whether a juvenile is in custody is an objective test and the child’s age must be taken into account when making this determination. 564 U.S. 261 (2011).
If Miranda warnings are required, then police officers must state the Miranda rights to a juvenile in a language that the juvenile understands. If a juvenile is taken into custody, the arresting officer is required to make a good faith effort to locate a parent or guardian of the juvenile. The arresting officer must explain to the parent or guardian that the juvenile is in custody. They must also state the delinquent act that the juvenile is alleged to have committed and advise the adult of the juvenile’s Miranda rights.
If you or your attorney believes that a law enforcement officer has violated a juvenile’s right under Miranda, the juvenile can move to have the statements suppressed by the court. The court will determine based on the totality of the circumstances, the specific facts in each case, if the juvenile waived the right to remain silent. Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707 (1979). The court will also weigh factors to determine if the juvenile was in custody when the statements were made, such factors include: (1) the location or physical surroundings of the interrogation; (2) whether a parent or other trusted adult was present; (3) the presence of other adult participants; (4) whether the juvenile was expressly told that he or she was free to leave; (5) whether the juvenile voluntarily submitted to the interview; (6) the duration of the interview; and (7) the nature of the questioning. J.D.B. v. North Carolina.
The documents that follow are a series of documents regarding J.H., a juvenile, who was accused of killing his father. When J.H. was arrested, he waived his Miranda rights and gave a statement. The statement was given after his rights were explained to him and his stepmother. In the following documents, J.H.’s defense counsel argues that the stepmother, who had just lost her husband at the hands of her stepson, should not have been able to assist J.H. in his decision-making. Additionally, the defense argues that J.H. lacked the capacity to understand his decision to waive his rights based on his young age—he was only 10 years old at the time—his lack of understanding in his actions, and his prior history as a victim of abuse. J.H. claimed he killed his father because he was abusive towards J.H. and several other family members. J.H. also claims that, on the night in question, his father claimed that he was going to remove all the smoke detectors form the home and burn it down while everyone slept. After being arrested, J.H. asked police “how many lives do people usually get?”
Note: These documents deal with statutes, rules, and case law in the state of California.
Letter in Support of Petition for Review per Rule 8.500(g)
This is a letter to the Court written by the Juvenile Law Center, the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, and the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center for In re J.H. The letter discusses whether the Court gave proper consideration in determining J.H.’s ability, or lack thereof, to comprehend and validly waive his Miranda rights. The letter focuses on the importance of allowing juveniles to consult with counsel prior to waiving Miranda rights, particularly when the only adult that is able to consult with the juvenile prior to the waiver has a conflict of interest. Read the letter.
Petition for Review
This is a brief written to the Supreme Court of California that presents three issues for review: (1) whether the 10-year-old petitioner had the capacity to waive his Miranda rights; (2) whether Miranda rights validly waived when an officer gives erroneous advice that is presented to a parent with conflicting interests; and (3) whether it is a violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to allow the prosecution to use evidence from a compelled psychiatric examination for purposes other than the rebuttal of the juveniles psychiatric evidence when no counsel was present at the time of the examination. Read the brief.
Dissenting Statement by Justice Goodwin Liu
Although the Supreme Court of California denied to review the case of In re J.H., Justice Goodwin Liu wrote a dissenting statement to explain why he believed the case needed to be reviewed. Justice Liu reminded the Court that the issue of whether a 10-year-old can understand the concept of a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of Miranda affects hundreds of children each year in the state of California. He also reminded the Court that other than the case before them, there were no other cases in California that upheld a waiver of Miranda by a child younger than the age of 12. Justice Liu also believed that the Court should answer the questions of what role parents, guardians, or counsel should have in aiding the decision of a young juvenile to waive his or her Miranda rights and under what conditions is a parent or guardian unable to assist in a young juvenile in such a decision. Read the dissenting statement.
Brief of Amici Curiae by Juvenile Law Center and the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth in Support of Petitioner
This amici brief was written to the Supreme Court of the United States after the Supreme Court of California denied reviewing J.H.’s case. Petitioner argues that the Court should review the case because he was 10 years old when he waived his Miranda rights. Petitioner argues that J.H.’s waiver was not knowingly and voluntarily given and that the Court should review the issue based on the recent developmental and scientific research that confirms juveniles’ deficits in comprehending Miranda rights, susceptibility to coercion, and relative ineptitude with making the life-altering decision to waive the right to silence and counsel. Finally, Petitioner asks the Court to examine the role between waiver of Miranda and the potentially coercive effect of parental authority and how that impacts whether waiver was knowing and intentional. Read the brief.
Brief in Opposition
This is a brief, prepared on behalf of the State of California, opposing J.H.’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. The Government argues that J.H. made unprompted statements in the presence of law enforcement indicating he knew what he did was wrong. The Government also argues that when J.H. waived his Miranda rights, his waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. The Government argues that even if the statements were suppressed, the decision in the case would be unchanged because of the unprompted statements J.H. made. Read the brief.
Petition for a Writ of Ceriorari
This petition asks the Supreme Court of California to grant a Writ of Certiorari to J.H. The petition reviews evidence about how the Court should issue a decision in the case in relation to unresolved issues surrounding Miranda rights for juveniles. The petition also reviews scientific evidence about a young juvenile’s decision-making and how that impacts his or her understanding when it comes to a Miranda waiver. Read the petition.
Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
In this landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that statements made by a defendant during an interrogation while in police custody is only admissible at trial if the prosecution can show that the defendant was properly informed of his or her rights. Miranda requires a suspect to be informed of his or her Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel both before and during interrogation. Police are also required to inform a suspect to be informed of his or her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before police questioning. The suspect must not only understand these rights, but also voluntarily waive them in order for his or her statements to be admitted at trial. Read the full opinion.
Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707 (1979)
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the totality of the circumstances should be considered when determining whether juvenile suspect’s incriminating statements and sketches are admissible at trial in the basis of waiver. Read the full opinion.
Thompson v. Keohane, 516 U.S. 99 (1995)
In this case, the State of Alaska argued that it was not required to read the Defendant his Miranda rights because he voluntarily came to the police station and was told that he was free to leave at any time. The U.S. Supreme Court wrote: “Two discrete inquiries are essential to the determination: first, what were the circumstances surrounding the interrogation; and second, given those circumstances, would a reasonable person have felt he or she was at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave. Once the scene is set and the players’ lines and actions are reconstructed, the court must apply an objective test to resolve ‘the ultimate inquiry’: ‘[was] there a formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement’ of the degree associated with formal arrest.” Read the full opinion.
J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S. Ct. 2394 (2011)
This U.S. Supreme Court case considered whether the age of a child subjected to police questioning is relevant in determining if the child is “in custody”—therefore requiring the law enforcement officer to administer the Miranda warning. In this 5-4 decision, the Court held that if the child’s age was known to the office at the time of police questioning, or if the child’s status as a juvenile is objectively apparent to any reasonable officer, the officer is required to issue the Miranda warning. Read the full opinion.