J.D.F., In Interest of, No. 95-1545

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtConsidered by McGIVERIN; SNELL
Citation553 N.W.2d 585
Docket NumberNo. 95-1545
Decision Date18 September 1996
PartiesIn the Interest of J.D.F., A Minor Child, J.D.F., Appellant.

Page 585

553 N.W.2d 585
In the Interest of J.D.F., A Minor Child, J.D.F., Appellant.
No. 95-1545.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Sept. 18, 1996.

Page 587

Frank Steinbach III of Cook, Gotsdiner, McEnroe & McCarthy, Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Diane Stahle, Special Assistant Attorney General, and Maureen McGuire, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Considered by McGIVERIN, C.J., and LARSON, CARTER, SNELL, and ANDREASEN, JJ.

SNELL, Justice.

This appeal arises from the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence. The evidence was obtained by police officers from defendant, a juvenile, while in custody. We affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On November 21, 1994, a call came over the police radio that a juvenile had been seen carrying a weapon and was attempting to put an ammunition clip into it. Sergeant William Judkins responded to the call and approached defendant JDF, who was standing on the street corner and met the description sent over the radio. Judkins observed what he thought to be a gun sticking out the front of JDF's pants. Judkins stopped his vehicle, identified himself as a police officer, and asked the defendant if he was carrying a gun. JDF did not respond, but instead turned and fled. Judkins pursued him on foot through a residential neighborhood, but eventually was outdistanced and lost sight of him. Judkins returned to his vehicle and gave a description of the suspect, including the detail that he believed the suspect was carrying a firearm, and the direction he had run. Judkins then drove around the neighborhood, spotted JDF, and apprehended him by wrestling him to the ground. At that time, the defendant did not possess a weapon.

Officers arrived on the scene, handcuffed JDF, and put him in the back of a squad car. JDF was neither arrested at this time nor read his Miranda rights. Sergeant Kail, a uniformed officer who answered Judkins' radio call for assistance, proceeded to question JDF about whether he had knowledge of a gun. JDF replied that he did not. Kail indicated he was concerned that persons in the neighborhood would come across the weapon and hurt themselves or others. JDF continued to deny he had a gun and instead led the officers to a crack pipe he had dropped during the chase. Kail continued to question JDF about the gun and eventually told him that if he showed them its location, he would not take him into custody at juvenile hall nor would he file charges against him. After this promise, JDF led the officers to a loaded automatic pistol, which was hidden under a tree in a residential back yard.

Kail then took JDF home and being unable to locate his parents, released him to the custody of his uncle. The next day the county attorney filed a delinquency charge against JDF, charging him with carrying a concealed weapon. JDF filed a motion to suppress his statements concerning the gun and the gun as physical evidence. This motion was denied by the juvenile court. JDF was subsequently adjudicated as having committed a delinquent act. It is from this adjudication that JDF appeals.

II. Standard of Review

Juvenile delinquency proceedings are not criminal prosecutions, but are special proceedings that serve as an ameliorative alternative to the criminal prosecution of children. In re J.D.S., 436 N.W.2d 342, 344 (Iowa 1989). Juvenile proceedings are reviewed de novo. In re A.M.H., 516 N.W.2d 867, 870 (Iowa 1994). Questions of both law and fact are subject to review. In re D.L.C., 464 N.W.2d 881, 882 (Iowa 1991). Weight should be given to the fact findings of the juvenile court, especially when considering the credibility of witnesses, but the reviewing court is not bound by them. Iowa R.App.P. 14(f)(7); J.D.S., 436 N.W.2d at 343.

III. Issues on Appeal

A. Interrogation

JDF first contends that all his statements to the police, including those regarding the possession and location of the

Page 588

gun, should be suppressed because the questioning occurred outside the presence of his parents and attorney and that he was not properly Mirandized before the interrogation. Generally, before initiating custodial interrogation, police must advise suspects of their Miranda rights in order to safeguard their Fifth Amendment privilege against the inherently coercive effect of such questioning. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1612, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 726 (1966). Being handcuffed and placed in the police car by the police officers, JDF was clearly in custody. "The ultimate inquiry is simply whether there is a 'formal arrest or restraint on freedom of movement' of the degree associated with a formal arrest." California v. Beheler, 463 U.S. 1121, 1125, 103 S.Ct. 3517, 3519, 77 L.Ed.2d 1275, 1279 (1983) (per curiam) (quoting Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 495, 97 S.Ct. 711, 714, 50 L.Ed.2d 714, 719 (1977) (per curiam)). As such, the first issue in the instant case is whether the police officers were justified in questioning JDF about the location of the gun prior to Mirandizing him and contacting his parents.

The United States Supreme Court has recognized a public safety exception to the requirements of Miranda. In New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649, 104 S.Ct. 2626, 81 L.Ed.2d 550 (1984), the Court established an exception to the general requirement that a suspect be advised of his rights before interrogation in narrow circumstances where "the need for answers to questions in a situation posing a threat to the public safety outweighs the need for the prophylactic rule protecting the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self incrimination." Quarles, 467 U.S. at 657, 104 S.Ct. at 2632, 81 L.Ed.2d at 558. Such circumstances generally involve a gun that has been left in a public area and the officers believe that it poses a danger to the public if left unfound. If this is the case, the officers are justified in questioning a suspect about its location without adhering to the requirements of Miranda. Id. "In such a situation, if the police are required to recite the familiar Miranda warnings before asking the whereabouts of the gun, suspects in Quarles' position might well be deterred from responding." Id.

The public safety exception has also been considered in juvenile proceedings, using the same rationale as that used in criminal cases. See In re B.R., 133 Ill.App.3d 946, 89 Ill.Dec. 78, 479 N.E.2d 1084 (1985); State ex rel. A.S., 227 N.J.Super. 541, 548 A.2d 202 (1988); In re John C., 130 A.D.2d 246, 519 N.Y.S.2d 223 (N.Y.App.Div.1987). Our court has previously discussed the general applicability of the public safety exception and we stressed that the officer's conduct in seeking the location of the weapon must fall within the limited purpose of protecting the public. See State v. Deases, 518 N.W.2d 784, 791 (Iowa 1994). Thus, the interrogation must not occur for the purpose of building a case against the suspect and there must be a sufficient exigency to justify the questioning.

The facts in this situation fall within the narrow scope of the exception as defined in Quarles. The officers on the scene had good reason to believe that a loaded weapon had been dropped somewhere in a...

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61 practice notes
  • Juvenile Officer v. J.L.H. (In re Interest of J.L.H.), WD 77850
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 8 Marzo 2016
    ...in a vacuum” and must be balanced with the rights of the public to be protected against exigent threats to the public. In re J.D.F. , 553 N.W.2d 585, 588–89 (Iowa 1996). See also Commonwealth v. Dillon D. , 448 Mass. 793, 863 N.E.2d 1287 (2007) (holding juvenile's possession of over fifty b......
  • State v. Flippo
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 6 Noviembre 2002
    ...553 S.E.2d 598, 604 (2001); People v. Perez, 258 Ill.App.3d 133, 196 Ill.Dec. 461, 630 N.E.2d 158, 162 (1994); In Interest of J.D.F., 553 N.W.2d 585, 590-591 (Iowa 1996); State v. McKessor, 246 Kan. 1, 785 P.2d 1332, 1337 (1990); State v. Hatton, 389 N.W.2d 229, 234 (Minn.Ct.App.1986); Whit......
  • State v. Lowe, No. 10–1454.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 15 Marzo 2012
    ...the risk of harm to the public. Id. We have noted that the public safety exception is closely drawn and narrow in scope. In re J.D.F., 553 N.W.2d 585, 588 (Iowa 1996); see also Quarles, 467 U.S. at 658, 104 S.Ct. at 2632, 81 L.Ed.2d at 558. For the exception to apply, there must be a threat......
  • State v. Rucker, No. 28
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 14 Abril 2003
    ...1023 (2001); State v. Doe, 137 Idaho 519, 50 P.3d 1014, 1018 (2002); Loving v. State, 647 N.E.2d 1123, 1125 (Ind.1995); In re J.D.F., 553 N.W.2d 585, 588 (Iowa 1996); State v. Maise, 805 So.2d 1141, 1149-50 (La.2002); State v. Higgins, 796 A.2d 50, 54 (Me. 2002); Commonwealth v. Sparks, 433......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • Juvenile Officer v. J.L.H. (In re Interest of J.L.H.), WD 77850
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 8 Marzo 2016
    ...in a vacuum” and must be balanced with the rights of the public to be protected against exigent threats to the public. In re J.D.F. , 553 N.W.2d 585, 588–89 (Iowa 1996). See also Commonwealth v. Dillon D. , 448 Mass. 793, 863 N.E.2d 1287 (2007) (holding juvenile's possession of over fifty b......
  • State v. Flippo
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 6 Noviembre 2002
    ...553 S.E.2d 598, 604 (2001); People v. Perez, 258 Ill.App.3d 133, 196 Ill.Dec. 461, 630 N.E.2d 158, 162 (1994); In Interest of J.D.F., 553 N.W.2d 585, 590-591 (Iowa 1996); State v. McKessor, 246 Kan. 1, 785 P.2d 1332, 1337 (1990); State v. Hatton, 389 N.W.2d 229, 234 (Minn.Ct.App.1986); Whit......
  • State v. Lowe, No. 10–1454.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 15 Marzo 2012
    ...the risk of harm to the public. Id. We have noted that the public safety exception is closely drawn and narrow in scope. In re J.D.F., 553 N.W.2d 585, 588 (Iowa 1996); see also Quarles, 467 U.S. at 658, 104 S.Ct. at 2632, 81 L.Ed.2d at 558. For the exception to apply, there must be a threat......
  • State v. Rucker, No. 28
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • 14 Abril 2003
    ...1023 (2001); State v. Doe, 137 Idaho 519, 50 P.3d 1014, 1018 (2002); Loving v. State, 647 N.E.2d 1123, 1125 (Ind.1995); In re J.D.F., 553 N.W.2d 585, 588 (Iowa 1996); State v. Maise, 805 So.2d 1141, 1149-50 (La.2002); State v. Higgins, 796 A.2d 50, 54 (Me. 2002); Commonwealth v. Sparks, 433......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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