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Supreme Court case will not affect local schools

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A U.S. Supreme Court case argued this week could affect how schoolchildren across the country are questioned for crimes.

But not in Richmond County schools.

The case in question is J.D.B. v. North Carolina and centers on a 13-year-old questioned in connection with a rash of Chapel Hill burglaries in 2005.

At issue is whether a person's age should factor into an officer's decision to read Miranda rights. Typically, that only applies when someone is in custody, or believes they are in custody.

For instance, if you invite an officer into your home, sit him on the couch and confess to a crime, the onus is on you. But if an officer sits you in his office, with another officer blocking the door, it's more of a "custodial" interview.

If it's only an informational interview, such as investigators questioning witnesses, there's no need for Miranda warnings. But if statements indicate the witness is a suspect, the officer gives advance warning that anything said in the interview could be used in a criminal case.

The dynamic changes at school, as with the Supreme Court case.

Once children step onto campus, are they considered in perpetual custody? Are they really free to leave at any time during questioning?

Chief Patrick Clayton with Richmond County Board of Education police said that regardless of the court's decision, not much will change here. That's because Board of Education police are already conscientious about reading rights to schoolchildren in custody, Clayton said.

The police department's standard operating procedures specifically address custodial interrogations and state:

"Officers shall consider the age of the child, the child's capacity to understand the warnings, and the child's level of understanding of what waiving their right to counsel and to remain silent means before reading a child their rights and conducting an interrogation."

The policy continues to say that if ample warning has been given and/or the child is mature enough to understand, the questioning can continue.

Clayton said the policy is more sensitive to Miranda rights than the average municipal police department's "just because we are dealing with children."

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charliemanson
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charliemanson 03/27/11 - 08:38 am
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"The policy continues to say

"The policy continues to say that if ample warning has been given and/or the child is mature enough to understand, the questioning can continue."
------------------------------------------------------

Yeah, that is like asking a police officer without any professional training to assess your child's IQ.

corgimom
34196
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corgimom 03/27/11 - 09:28 am
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If you're old enough to

If you're old enough to commit burglary, you're old enough to be questioned.

dougk
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dougk 03/27/11 - 04:32 pm
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If your simplistic argument
Unpublished

If your simplistic argument made any sense, Corgimom, the issue would never have ended up in the Supreme Court.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 03/27/11 - 12:52 pm
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Children should be taught not

Children should be taught not to talk to anyone without their parents present if they are in an interrogration setting. While completely innocent, I had that done by police detectives when I was in high school in 1965. They were asking questions about someone who was in my class who was breaking into businesses and did I know anything about it. I did not but had I said something wrong they may have suspected me. I know they were fishing because almost all the people who knew him were questioned.

corgimom
34196
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corgimom 03/27/11 - 04:53 pm
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Well, dougk, that's not the

Well, dougk, that's not the question being considered before the Supreme Court, so I think everything is pretty ok. This is the question:

WHETHER A TRIAL COURT MAY CONSIDER A JUVENILE’S AGE
IN A FIFTH AMENDMENT MIRANDA CUSTODY ANALYSIS IN
EVALUATING THE TOTALITY OF THE OBJECTIVE CIRCUMSTANCES AND
DETERMINING WHETHER A REASONABLE PERSON IN THE
JUVENILE’S POSITION WOULD HAVE FELT HE OR SHE WAS FREE TO
TERMINATE POLICE QUESTIONING AND LEAVE?

dougk
3
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dougk 03/27/11 - 09:37 pm
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Now, you have it right
Unpublished

Now, you have it right Corgimom. Must have looked it up after your off the cuff comment??

mable8
2
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mable8 03/27/11 - 10:14 pm
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Parent(s) or guardian(s) are

Parent(s) or guardian(s) are to be present when their child is questioned about criminal activities. As for understanding what waiving one's rights is all about, a 13 year old normally doesn't have a clue. Adults need to quit acting as if children are miniature adults who understand all there is in life. As for parent(s) and guardian(s), they should be teaching their child what is and is not acceptable behavior; most parents are capable of this but fail to help the child build good character.

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