J.D.B. v. North Carolina, No. 09–11121.

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice SOTOMAYOR delivered the opinion of the Court.
Citation180 L.Ed.2d 310,564 U.S. 261,131 S.Ct. 2394
Parties J.D.B., Petitioner, v. NORTH CAROLINA.
Docket NumberNo. 09–11121.
Decision Date16 June 2011

564 U.S. 261
131 S.Ct.
2394
180 L.Ed.2d 310

J.D.B., Petitioner,
v.
NORTH CAROLINA.

No. 09–11121.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued March 23, 2011.
Decided June 16, 2011.


Barbara S. Blackman, Durham, NC, for Petitioner.

Roy Cooper, Attorney General, Raleigh, NC, for Respondent.

Eric J. Feigin, for United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting the respondent.

Barbara S. Blackman, S. Hannah Demerit, Benjamin Dowling-Sendor, Assistant Appellate Defenders Staples S. Hughes, Appellate Defender, Office of the Appellate Defender, Durham, North Carolina, for Petitioner.

Roy Cooper, Attorney General of North Carolina, Christopher G. Browsing, Jr., Solicitor General of North Carolina, Robert C. Montgomery, Special Deputy Attorney General, LaToya B. Powell, Assistant Attorney General, North Carolina Department of Justice, Raleigh, NC, for Respondent.

Justice SOTOMAYOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

564 U.S. 264

This case presents the question whether the age of a child subjected to police questioning is relevant to the custody analysis of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances

564 U.S. 265
131 S.Ct. 2399

would feel free to leave. Seeing no reason for police officers or courts to blind themselves to that commonsense reality, we hold that a child's age properly informs the Miranda custody analysis.

I

A

Petitioner J.D.B. was a 13–year–old, seventh-grade student attending class at Smith Middle School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina when he was removed from his classroom by a uniformed police officer, escorted to a closed-door conference room, and questioned by police for at least half an hour.

This was the second time that police questioned J.D.B. in the span of a week. Five days earlier, two home break-ins occurred, and various items were stolen. Police stopped and questioned J.D.B. after he was seen behind a residence in the neighborhood where the crimes occurred. That same day, police also spoke to J.D.B.'s grandmother—his legal guardian—as well as his aunt.

Police later learned that a digital camera matching the description of one of the stolen items had been found at J.D.B.'s middle school and seen in J.D.B.'s possession. Investigator DiCostanzo, the juvenile investigator with the local police force who had been assigned to the case, went to the school to question J.D.B. Upon arrival, DiCostanzo informed the uniformed police officer on detail to the school (a so-called school resource officer), the assistant principal, and an administrative intern that he was there to question J.D.B. about the break-ins. Although DiCostanzo asked the school administrators to verify J.D.B.'s date of birth, address, and parent contact information from school records, neither the police officers nor the school administrators contacted J.D.B.'s grandmother.

The uniformed officer interrupted J.D.B.'s afternoon social studies class, removed J.D.B. from the classroom, and

564 U.S. 266

escorted him to a school conference room.1 There, J.D.B. was met by DiCostanzo, the assistant principal, and the administrative intern. The door to the conference room was closed. With the two police officers and the two administrators present, J.D.B. was questioned for the next 30 to 45 minutes. Prior to the commencement of questioning, J.D.B. was given neither Miranda warnings nor the opportunity to speak to his grandmother. Nor was he informed that he was free to leave the room.

Questioning began with small talk—discussion of sports and J.D.B.'s family life. DiCostanzo asked, and J.D.B. agreed, to discuss the events of the prior weekend. Denying any wrongdoing, J.D.B. explained that he had been in the neighborhood where the crimes occurred because he was seeking work mowing lawns. DiCostanzo pressed J.D.B. for additional detail about his efforts to obtain work; asked J.D.B. to explain a prior incident, when one of the victims returned home to find J.D.B. behind her house; and confronted J.D.B. with the stolen camera. The assistant principal urged J.D.B. to "do the right thing," warning J.D.B. that "the truth always comes out in the end." App. 99a, 112a.

Eventually, J.D.B. asked whether he would "still be in trouble" if he returned the "stuff." Ibid . In response, DiCostanzo explained that return of the stolen items would be helpful, but "this thing is going

131 S.Ct. 2400

to court" regardless. Id., at 112a; ibid. ("[W]hat's done is done[;] now you need to help yourself by making it right"); see also id., at 99a. DiCostanzo then warned that he may need to seek a secure custody order if he believed that J.D.B. would continue to break into other homes. When J.D.B. asked what a secure custody

564 U.S. 267

order was, DiCostanzo explained that "it's where you get sent to juvenile detention before court." Id., at 112a.

After learning of the prospect of juvenile detention, J.D.B. confessed that he and a friend were responsible for the break-ins. DiCostanzo only then informed J.D.B. that he could refuse to answer the investigator's questions and that he was free to leave.2 Asked whether he understood, J.D.B. nodded and provided further detail, including information about the location of the stolen items. Eventually J.D.B. wrote a statement, at DiCostanzo's request. When the bell rang indicating the end of the schoolday, J.D.B. was allowed to leave to catch the bus home.

B

Two juvenile petitions were filed against J.D.B., each alleging one count of breaking and entering and one count of larceny. J.D.B.'s public defender moved to suppress his statements and the evidence derived therefrom, arguing that suppression was necessary because J.D.B. had been "interrogated by police in a custodial setting without being afforded Miranda warning[s]," App. 89a, and because his

564 U.S. 268

statements were involuntary under the totality of the circumstances test, id., at 142a; see Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 226, 93 S.Ct. 2041, 36 L.Ed.2d 854 (1973) (due process precludes admission of a confession where "a defendant's will was overborne" by the circumstances of the interrogation). After a suppression hearing at which DiCostanzo and J.D.B. testified, the trial court denied the motion, deciding that J.D.B. was not in custody at the time of the schoolhouse interrogation and that his statements were voluntary. As a result, J.D.B. entered a transcript of admission to all four counts, renewing his objection to the denial of his motion to suppress, and the court adjudicated J.D.B. delinquent.

A divided panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed. In re J.D.B., 196 N.C.App. 234, 674 S.E.2d 795 (2009). The North Carolina Supreme Court held, over two dissents, that J.D.B. was not in custody when he confessed, "declin[ing] to extend the test for custody to include consideration of the age ... of an individual subjected to questioning by police." In re J.D.B., 363 N.C. 664, 672, 686 S.E.2d 135, 140 (2009).3

131 S.Ct. 2401

We granted certiorari to determine whether the Miranda custody analysis includes consideration of a juvenile suspect's age. 562 U.S. ––––, 131 S.Ct. 502, 178 L.Ed.2d 368 (2010).

II

A

Any police interview of an individual suspected of a crime has "coercive aspects to it." Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 495, 97 S.Ct. 711, 50 L.Ed.2d 714 (1977)(per curiam) . Only those interrogations that occur while a suspect is in police custody, however, "heighte[n] the risk" that statements obtained are not the

564 U.S. 269

product of the suspect's free choice. Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, 435, 120 S.Ct. 2326, 147 L.Ed.2d 405 (2000).

By its very nature, custodial police interrogation entails "inherently compelling pressures." Miranda, 384 U.S., at 467, 86 S.Ct. 1602. Even for an adult, the physical and psychological isolation of custodial interrogation can "undermine the individual's will to resist and ... compel him to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely."Ibid . Indeed, the pressure of custodial interrogation is so immense that it "can induce a frighteningly high percentage of people to confess to crimes they never committed." Corley v. United States, 556 U.S. 303, ––––, 129 S.Ct. 1558, 1570, 173 L.Ed.2d 443 (2009) (citing Drizin & Leo, The Problem of False Confessions in the Post–DNA World, 82 N.C.L.Rev. 891, 906–907 (2004) ); see also Miranda, 384 U.S., at 455, n. 23, 86 S.Ct. 1602. That risk is all the more troubling—and recent studies suggest, all the more acute—when the subject of custodial interrogation is a juvenile. See Brief for Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth et al. as Amici Curiae 21–22 (collecting empirical studies that "illustrate...

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932 practice notes
  • United States v. Clark, No. 4:16CR00107 JAR/NCC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • March 1, 2017
    ...voluntary and involuntary statements." United States v. Diaz, 736 F.3d 1143, 1148 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 269 (2011) (internal quotation marks omitted)). See United States v. Crisolis-Gonzalez, 742 F.3d 830, 836 (8th Cir. 2014) ("Interrogation in the......
  • People v. Ramirez, B306088
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 23, 2021
    ...132 S.Ct. 2455.) "[T]hey ‘are more vulnerable or susceptible to ... outside pressures’ than adults ...." ( J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. 261, 272, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310.) A juvenile's immaturity and failure to appreciate the risks and consequences of his or her actions ......
  • Y.C. v. Superior Court of San Mateo Cnty., A162063
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 8, 2021
    ...that it warned against in Miranda can be especially powerful in breaking the will of a juvenile. (J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. 261, 272, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310.) The Court's sensitivity to this issue is not new. (See Gallegos v. Colorado (1962) 370 U.S. 49, 53–55, 82 S.......
  • People v. I.F. (In re I.F.), C080658
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 22, 2018
    ...).)20 Cal.App.5th 760In juvenile cases, the same factors still apply, but with an added consideration. In J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. 261, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310 ( J.D.B. ), the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that a child's age may be considered in the Miranda analysis, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
923 cases
  • United States v. Clark, No. 4:16CR00107 JAR/NCC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • March 1, 2017
    ...voluntary and involuntary statements." United States v. Diaz, 736 F.3d 1143, 1148 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 269 (2011) (internal quotation marks omitted)). See United States v. Crisolis-Gonzalez, 742 F.3d 830, 836 (8th Cir. 2014) ("Interrogation in the......
  • People v. Ramirez, B306088
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 23, 2021
    ...132 S.Ct. 2455.) "[T]hey ‘are more vulnerable or susceptible to ... outside pressures’ than adults ...." ( J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. 261, 272, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310.) A juvenile's immaturity and failure to appreciate the risks and consequences of his or her actions ......
  • Y.C. v. Superior Court of San Mateo Cnty., A162063
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 8, 2021
    ...that it warned against in Miranda can be especially powerful in breaking the will of a juvenile. (J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. 261, 272, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310.) The Court's sensitivity to this issue is not new. (See Gallegos v. Colorado (1962) 370 U.S. 49, 53–55, 82 S.......
  • People v. I.F. (In re I.F.), C080658
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • February 22, 2018
    ...).)20 Cal.App.5th 760In juvenile cases, the same factors still apply, but with an added consideration. In J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2011) 564 U.S. 261, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 180 L.Ed.2d 310 ( J.D.B. ), the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that a child's age may be considered in the Miranda analysis, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 books & journal articles
  • Youth Always Matters: Replacing Eighth Amendment Pseudoscience with an Age-Based Ban on Juvenile Life Without Parole.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 6, April 2022
    • April 1, 2022
    ...person's inability to "deal with police officers or prosecutors" distinguishes children from adults); see also J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 273 (2011) (discussing children's responses to interrogation and noting that "children characteristically lack the capacity to exercise matu......
  • Schoolhouse Property.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 5, March 2022
    • March 1, 2022
    ...unique cognitive and developmental characteristics warrant heightened constitutional protection. See, e.g., J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S. 261, 279-81 (2011) (finding that, owing in part to children's more limited cognitive and developmental characteristics vis-a-vis adults, the age of ......
  • Juvenile life without parole post-Miller: the long, treacherous road towards a categorical rule.
    • United States
    • Washington University Law Review Vol. 91 Nbr. 2, February - February 2014
    • February 1, 2014
    ...recently held that a suspect's age is relevant to the objective custody analysis under Miranda v. Arizona. J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 131 S. Ct. 2394, 2406 (2011). So long as police know, or should know, that the suspect is a juvenile, courts must now consider the suspect's age when determin......
  • Fallacious Reasoning: Revisiting the Roper Trilogy in Light of the Sexual-Abuse-to-Prison Pipeline.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 72 Nbr. 3, March 2020
    • March 1, 2020
    ...U.S. 460, 465, 489 (2012). (57.) Id. at 471. (58.) Id. at 473. (59.) Id. at 474. (60.) 136 S. Ct. 718, 734 (2016). (61.) Id. at 734. (62.) 564 U.S. 261, 272-73 (2011). Under Miranda custody analysis, a suspect is entitled to be advised of his or her rights when in "custodial interrogation."......
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