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Miranda Warnings as Applied to Children

child-147x150How old must a child be before he or she can understand the Miranda warnings? The Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of J.D.B. vs. North Carolina, dealt with this issue. The court, in this case, rendered a ruling that police must take a suspect’s age into consideration when evaluating whether to give the Miranda warnings before questioning the suspect about criminal activity.

The Miranda warnings are that the individual being interrogated has a right to remain silent, a right to counsel, that any statement may be used as evidence against him and, if he or she can’t afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed.

The Facts of J.D.B. vs. North Carolina

J.D.B. was a thirteen-year-old seventh grader. He was found near the site of home break-ins. He was questioned by the police without receiving his Miranda warnings. He initially denied complicity in the criminal activity. In the end, he confessed. He was given his Miranda warnings after confessing.

The Supreme Court Decision

The United States Supreme Court rendered a decision that a suspect’s age should be taken into consideration to determine whether he is “in custody” for purposes of being entitled to receive the Miranda Warnings. In the majority decision, Justice Sotomayor states “it is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave.” She further stated, “a child’s age is far more than a chronological fact. It is a fact that generates common sense and conclusions and perceptions…we have observed that children generally are less mature and responsible than adults and that they often lack experience, perspective and judgment to recognize and avoid choices that could be detrimental to them”, and that they “are more vulnerable or susceptible to outside pressure then adults.”

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Criminal Attorneys

Being charged with a crime can have a major impact on a person’s life. In these circumstances, you want experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense counsel to protect your rights. For more than 33 years, the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have provided criminal defense throughout the Metropolitan New York area for individuals charged with drug offenses, domestic violence, assault and battery, driving while intoxicated, juvenile defenses, shoplifting, burglary, weapons possession, sex crimes, white collar crimes, and all other types of misdemeanors and felonies. Our office is on call 24/7. We provide free consultations for all prospective clients.

Gravity Knife Not Admitted into Evidence, Case Dismissed

gravity-150x150In a recent case in New York County, Judge Martino, sitting in the Family Court, dismissed a juvenile proceeding. The juvenile was walking in February in what the police referred to as a high crime area. Police officers saw the juvenile walking alone. He was wearing a winter jacket and had a black ski mask. When the juvenile saw the police officers, he changed directions. He also put his hands in his pocket while walking away. The police officer stopped him and questioned him. They asked if he had any weapons on him. They then searched him and found a gravity knife.

Appeal Taken

The Appellate Division, an Appeals Court, held that looking startled and walking away from police officers is not criminal behavior. This does not generate a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. The court thereafter ruled that the police officers did not have the level of suspicion necessary to ask questions that could be incriminating, even in a high crime neighborhood. The court rule also found that wearing a ski mask and a heavy jacket in February while putting one’s hands in one’s pocket did not rise to the level of suspicion required under common law to indicate a crime was committed. The knife was suppressed, the case was dismissed.

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Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for committing a crime, the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you. We represent individuals charged with a variety of offenses including, but not limited to, white collar crimes, violent crimes, sex crimes, weapons possession, drunk driving (DWI), shoplifting, burglary, juvenile defenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, drug offenses and all types of felonies and misdemeanors. Call us should you have criminal problems. We can help you!

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