The Supreme Court rules that when police take a child out of school for the purpose of questioning them about a crime, Miranda warnings are required. In a 5 to 4 ruling, Justice Sotomayor clearly indicated that children deserve a higher level of protection from potential police abuse than adults. Prior to this ruling, police could remove a child from his classroom and ask the child questions which intended to gain incriminating responses. Police were allowed to do this without an adult present and without Mirandizing the child.
In what seems to me to be a very well reasoned opinion Justice Sotomayor opined that children often feel as if they are required to submit to police questioning where an adult in a similar situation may feel free to leave or not answer police questions.
There appears to still be the requirement that the minor be in police control at the time of the questioning. In the decision of JDB v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the state court for consideration of this issue.
As a practical matter, children may still feel as if they have no choice but to comply with officers after the kids have been pulled from their classrooms by police. However, they now have the benefit of the Miranda warnings:
- The right to remain silent, knowing that anything they say can and will be used against them in court and
- The right to an attorney at no charge to them and to have the attorney present during any police questioning.
Way to go Justice Sonia Sotomayor for protecting our children and for your common sense opinion.
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