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The Court in a well reasoned opinion, held that a juvenile in the a school setting who is questioned by the principal in the presence of a police officer is in custody for the purposes of the 5th Amendment and therefore, entitled to the appropriate Miranda warnings.

In order to protect the 5th Amendment rights against self incrimination, suspects including juveniles are entitled to Miranda warnings prior to police interrogation.

The N.C. Juvenile code provides additional protections for juveniles who are in custody. Prior to questioning the juvenile must be told that he has the right to remain silent, that any statement can and may be used against him, that he has the right to have a parent present during custody, and that he has a right to have an attorney to consult with and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to him.

Additional protections apply to juveniles 14 years of age and under. When the juvenile is less than 14 years of age, no in‑custody admission or confession resulting from interrogation may be admitted into evidence unless the confession or admission was made in the presence of the juvenile’s parent, guardian, custodian, or attorney. If an attorney is not present, the parent, guardian, or custodian as well as the juvenile must be advised of the juvenile’s rights as set out above; however, a parent, guardian, or custodian may not waive any right on behalf of the juvenile.

The Court In re K.D.L,  held that custodial interrogation is “questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.” An objective totality of the circumstances test is used to determine whether the suspect has been taken into custody.

The Court reasoned that a juvenile who is questioned throughout the day by the principal for criminal conduct was treated in such a way that a reasonable person in his situation would believe he was functionally under arrest. The Court went on to hold that while the officer did not question the juvenile a reasonable person would believe that the officer was there in concert with the principal and that a failure to answer questions by the principal would lead to criminal charges.

See the entire opinion at

http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/coa/opinions/2010/pdf/091653-1.pdf

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