B.A. v. State, Supreme Court Case No. 49S02–1709–JV–567

Docket NºSupreme Court Case No. 49S02–1709–JV–567
Citation100 N.E.3d 225
Case DateJune 20, 2018
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

100 N.E.3d 225

B.A., Appellant (Respondent),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Petitioner).

Supreme Court Case No. 49S02–1709–JV–567

Supreme Court of Indiana.

Argued: October 30, 2017
Filed and Decided: June 20, 2018


ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Amy E. Karozos, Greenwood, Indiana, Ruth A. Johnson, Indianapolis, Indiana

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: Curtis T. Hill, Jr., Attorney General of Indiana, Caryn N. Szyper, Angela N. Sanchez, Kelly A. Loy, Deputy Attorneys General, Indianapolis, Indiana

ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE CENTER ON WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS OF YOUTH: Cara Schaefer, Wieneke Wieneke Law Office, LLC, Brooklyn, Indiana, Laura Nirider, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Chicago, Illinois

Justices David, Massa, Slaughter, and Goff concur.

On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 49A02–1606–JV–1474

Rush, Chief Justice.

The vital mission of educating our youth requires schools to daily provide safety, security, and student discipline. In recent decades, schools have turned to resource officers for help. These officers protect students and staff, offer mentorship—and, yes, help with discipline and criminal investigations. As their presence has grown, so too have questions of students' constitutional rights. Today we address for the

100 N.E.3d 228

first time one of those questions: when are students entitled to Miranda warnings at school?

Here, in response to a bomb threat on a bathroom wall, thirteen-year-old B.A. was escorted from his bus and questioned in a vice-principal's office. Officers hovered over B.A. and encouraged him to confess, but no one gave him Miranda warnings.

We hold that B.A. was in police custody and under police interrogation, so he should have been Mirandized. We therefore reverse his delinquency adjudications.

Facts and Procedural History

Scribbled in pink marker in a Decatur Middle School boys' bathroom came the threat: "I will Got A bomb in the school Monday 8th 2016 not A Joke." School Resource Officer Tutsie "immediately went into investigative mode" and soon narrowed the suspects to two students—including thirteen-year-old B.A.

The next Monday, February 8, 2016, school resource officers and administrators walked through the school and found it safe. Then, when B.A.'s bus arrived, Vice–Principal Remaly and School Resource Officer Lyday removed B.A. from his bus and escorted him to Remaly's office.

B.A. sat in front of Remaly's desk while Officer Lyday stood a few feet away. Early in B.A.'s interview, Officer Tutsie came in and took Officer Lyday's spot while Officer Lyday moved to sit at a conference table behind B.A. Around that same time, a third school resource officer—Officer Wheeler—came in and sat at the conference table. All three officers wore police uniforms.

Vice–Principal Remaly led the interview, asking if B.A. knew why he was there. B.A. maintained that he did not. To see if B.A.'s handwriting matched the bomb threat, Officer Tutsie handed B.A. written sentences and told B.A. how to copy them.

After B.A. copied the sentences, Remaly decided that the handwriting sample matched the threat and asked B.A. why he did it. Then Officer Lyday interrupted to say, "Come on, man, just—just tell the truth." B.A. started crying, lowered his head, and said "I don't know. I'm sorry." Remaly then ended the interview—which had lasted fifteen minutes—and called B.A.'s mother. When she arrived and asked B.A. what happened, he told her, "I'm sorry mom, it was a joke" and admitted that it was a dumb thing to do.

With these admissions, Remaly suspended B.A. from school, pending expulsion. He then turned B.A. over to the school resource officers, who arrested him and took him to the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center.

The State alleged that B.A. was delinquent for committing false reporting, a Level 6 felony if committed by an adult, and institutional criminal mischief, a Class A misdemeanor if committed by an adult. B.A. moved to suppress the evidence from his interview, arguing that he was entitled to Miranda warnings since he was under custodial interrogation and that officers failed to secure waiver of his Miranda rights under Indiana's juvenile waiver statute. See Ind. Code § 31–32–5–1 (2017). After a hearing, the juvenile court denied the motion and found B.A. delinquent on both counts.

B.A. appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. B.A. v. State , 73 N.E.3d 720, 730 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017). It held that Miranda warnings were not required because a school administrator questioned B.A. for an educational purpose. Id. We granted transfer, vacating the Court of Appeals opinion. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).1

100 N.E.3d 229

Standard of Review

We review the admission of B.A.'s incriminating statements for an abuse of discretion. See Snow v. State , 77 N.E.3d 173, 176 (Ind. 2017). But the underlying issue—whether B.A. was under custodial interrogation—is purely legal and entitled to de novo review. See State v. Brown , 70 N.E.3d 331, 335 (Ind. 2017). We thus first address whether B.A. was in police custody and then whether he was under police interrogation.

Discussion and Decision

The parties agree that Miranda warnings protect students at school but disagree whether B.A. was entitled to the warnings. The critical inquiry is whether he was under custodial interrogation. B.A. argues that he was in custody under the totality of the circumstances and that he was interrogated because police officers participated in his interview. The State responds that the officers' presence was noncoercive and that they did not directly question B.A.

We start by exploring how Miranda ties into modern schools' efforts to stay safe and crime-free. We then explain the tests for police custody and police interrogation in a school setting and apply them to the undisputed facts here. We conclude that because B.A. was under custodial interrogation yet not Mirandized, his incriminating statements should have been suppressed. The juvenile court therefore abused its discretion.

I. Miranda warnings protect students under custodial interrogation.

A. The modern school setting.

Our schools face the monumental task of shielding students from an array of dangers in order to provide safe learning environments. Partnering with school resource officers is a key part of that effort; sworn law enforcement officers protect nearly half of the country's public schools.2

These officers wear many hats. They ensure school safety and mentor and educate students, but they also investigate crimes and make arrests.3 See Ind. Code §§ 20–26–18.2–1, -3, -16–6(b) (2017). This means that school discipline sometimes falls under the watchful eye of the police. See generally Paul Holland, Schooling Miranda: Policing Interrogation in the Twenty–First Century Schoolhouse , 52 Loyola L. Rev. 39 (2006).

For students, the stakes of the disciplinary process are high. Students can be suspended and expelled, as B.A. was here. B.A. , 73 N.E.3d at 723. But those educational consequences are just the tip of the iceberg since school police officers' involvement can also lead to criminal

100 N.E.3d 230

charges. B.A., for example, was arrested and taken to the juvenile detention center at the end of his interview. Some students are sentenced to jail time. See, e.g. , N.C. v. Commonwealth , 396 S.W.3d 852, 854–55 (Ky. 2013). And others are waived into adult court, where they face years-long sentences. See, e.g. , Norris v. State , 896 N.E.2d 1149, 1151 (Ind. 2008).

Ultimately, as the law-enforcement presence grows in today's schools, so does the discussion of students' rights. See, e.g. , Holland, supra , at 39. One of those rights—the right against self-incrimination—"reflects many of our fundamental values and most noble aspirations," including "our unwillingness to subject those suspected of crime to ... self-accusation." Carter v. Kentucky , 450 U.S. 288, 299, 101 S.Ct. 1112, 67 L.Ed.2d 241 (1981) (quoting Murphy v. Waterfront Comm'n , 378 U.S. 52, 55, 84 S.Ct. 1594, 12 L.Ed.2d 678 (1964), overruled in part on other grounds by United States v. Balsys , 524 U.S. 666, 118 S.Ct. 2218, 141 L.Ed.2d 575 (1998) ). Indeed, the right, "while sometimes ‘a shelter to the guilty,’ is often ‘a protection to the innocent.’ " Id. at 299–300, 101 S.Ct. 1112 (quoting Murphy , 378 U.S. at 55, 84 S.Ct. 1594 ). Because of that important role, as explained below, the right against self-incrimination is protected by Miranda warnings.

B. Miranda's history and application in schools.

The Supreme Court of the United States's groundbreaking Miranda v. Arizona decision adopted the now-famous " Miranda warnings." 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). They apply to suspects under custodial interrogation, who must be told that they have "a right to remain silent, that any statement [they do] make may be used as evidence against [them], and that [they have] a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed." Id...

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8 practice notes
  • State v. O.E.W., Court of Appeals Case No. 18A-JV-2409
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • August 19, 2019
    ...police coercion. Id. at 467, 86 S.Ct. 1602 ; Howes v. Fields , 565 U.S. 499, 507, 132 S.Ct. 1181, 182 L.Ed.2d 17 (2012). B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 230 (Ind. 2018). Children are particularly vulnerable to such coercion, making Miranda warnings especially important, even when police pla......
  • In re D.A.H., No. COA20-212
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • April 20, 2021
    ...and adversarial environment that does not normally exist during interactions between school officials and students"); B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 229-34 (Ind. 2018) (holding that although the officers "did not directly question" the juvenile during his interrogation by the principal, ne......
  • Scanland v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 19A-CR-790
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 19, 2019
    ...the police ... that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect." B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 233 (Ind. 2018), "Police custody alone does not trigger Miranda ; there must be police interrogation as well.") Id. (citing Innis , 446 U.S......
  • State v. Diego, Supreme Court Case No. 21S-CR-285
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 9, 2021
    ...(cleaned up) (citing J.D.B. v. North Carolina , 564 U.S. 261, 275, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310 (2011) ). See also B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 232 (Ind. 2018). Beyond this trait, "English language capabilities might have an objectively discernible relationship to a reasonable person'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. O.E.W., Court of Appeals Case No. 18A-JV-2409
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • August 19, 2019
    ...police coercion. Id. at 467, 86 S.Ct. 1602 ; Howes v. Fields , 565 U.S. 499, 507, 132 S.Ct. 1181, 182 L.Ed.2d 17 (2012). B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 230 (Ind. 2018). Children are particularly vulnerable to such coercion, making Miranda warnings especially important, even when police pla......
  • In re D.A.H., No. COA20-212
    • United States
    • North Carolina Court of Appeal of North Carolina (US)
    • April 20, 2021
    ...and adversarial environment that does not normally exist during interactions between school officials and students"); B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 229-34 (Ind. 2018) (holding that although the officers "did not directly question" the juvenile during his interrogation by the principal, ne......
  • Scanland v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 19A-CR-790
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 19, 2019
    ...the police ... that the police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect." B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 233 (Ind. 2018), "Police custody alone does not trigger Miranda ; there must be police interrogation as well.") Id. (citing Innis , 446 U.S......
  • State v. Diego, Supreme Court Case No. 21S-CR-285
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 9, 2021
    ...(cleaned up) (citing J.D.B. v. North Carolina , 564 U.S. 261, 275, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310 (2011) ). See also B.A. v. State , 100 N.E.3d 225, 232 (Ind. 2018). Beyond this trait, "English language capabilities might have an objectively discernible relationship to a reasonable person'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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