The Supreme Court takes up a North Carolina case today that could have sweeping implications for young suspects who are questioned by law enforcement, say the McClatchy Newspapers. The question is whether an interrogator should consider a suspect’s age before deciding whether to read the Miranda warning. Now, police must decide whether a “reasonable person” would consider themselves in custody. If the answer is yes, law enforcement must tell suspects they have the right to remain silent, to call an attorney and, if under 18, to have his or her parents notified.
The issue “comes down to the type of society we want to live in,” said Tamar Birckhead, who teaches law at the University of North Carolina School of Law. She and other juvenile justice advocates argue that children should be given extra consideration by police officers in the early stages of an investigation, including in interrogations. Those who advocate for law enforcement agencies say youths already have extra protections in court, and that police officers should not bear an additional burden of trying to figure out a suspect’s age.